Schools, shops and parks under water as torrential downpour causes floods chaos
FLOODS brought chaos to the Lothians yesterday after almost half a month’s rainfall poured down on the Capital in just an hour.
The Meadows, Princes Street Gardens and Inch Park were all left under water after an estimated three centimetres of rain fell on the city at around midday.
The stormy weather also affected areas across the Lothians, with hundreds of homes and businesses in Musselburgh left without power after a lightning strike knocked out the town’s electricity grid.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) issued a flood warning for the area just after midday yesterday, after recording “rain intensities of over 30mm in an hour”.
Met Office statistics showed the average monthly rainfall for the Capital is around 60mm.
The sudden downpour left large areas of Edinburgh’s open spaces under water, with both the Meadows and Princes Street Gardens affected by drains overflowing due to the sheer volume of water.
Flooding on the outskirts of the city caused trouble for commuters, with drivers warned to take care on the A1 due to large patches of standing water.
Train passengers were forced to disembark at Edinburgh Park due to flooding in Broxburn.
A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused by circumstances outwith our control.”
At the same time, restrictions were brought in on the road between Maybury Drive and Barnton after it was left underwater during the height of the downpour.
Visitors to the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston saw the Grand Parade of Winners cut short, after thunder and lightning frightened the animals, while visitors also had to contend with standing water at the showground.
Organisers were forced to restrict parking at the site to the west car park due to flooding.
Work was under way last night to try to drain away as much of the water as possible and ensure the show could continue.
The Met Office has predicted further rainfall to come over the weekend, though it is expected to be lighter over the coming days.
The chaos from the extreme conditions extended into East Lothian, with heavy rain causing a drain to collapse in Tranent. Police placed cones around the danger spot until the council could erect barriers.
Surface water on the A1 into the city made for a terrifying commute for some drivers.
Craig Finlay, 36, from Tranent, said a stretch of road near the Newcraighall junction was “an accident waiting to happen”.
He said: “ It’s really unnerving. Any time it rains, this particular stretch floods really badly and really quickly. Visibility was terrible.
“Traffic was heavy and it was throwing up a lot of spray.”
A BEAR Scotland spokeswoman admitted the A1 had suffered problems due to the heavy rain, but insisted workers were going flat out to clear the problem areas.
She said: “Flooding has occurred on the A1 just north of Haddington on the dual carriageway following severe rainfall.
“We have had the team on-site since earlier today trying to clear the road, and we would urge drivers to travel with care through this area, as well as across the rest of the network while conditions remain wet.”
Among the buildings worst hit by the flooding was the prestigious Loretto School in Musselburgh, which was hit by several inches of water.
The school was left flooded both inside and outside, with severe damage caused to parts of the main building, while large piles of hailstones were scattered around the grounds.
School bursar Stephen Howard said: “We’ve had ceilings cave in. Classes were not affected.
“I’ve had my shoes and socks off bailing out with the staff. We’ve had no power since 3pm. I have seagulls and ducks on my sports fields.
“It’s going to cost thousands of pounds. We have carpets which need drying, ceilings which need replaced and places that need decorating.”
Describing the sudden downpour, he said: “It was a phenomenal sight, it was just amazing. It was extraordinary, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”
A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said: “We are on standby in case we have to have to evacuate some householders.
“Although further rain is forecast, it’s not forecast to be as heavy and we are hoping evacuation can be avoided.”
Several hundred homes in Musselburgh were left without power after suspected lightning damage to the East Lothian town’s electricity network.
ScottishPower received more than 30 calls from customers after 3pm yesterday alerting the firm to the power outage.
The lightning strike also knocked out power to the town’s Tesco store, leaving hundreds of shoppers waiting to pay for their goods.
Power to the tills was cut and shoppers were unable to pay for their groceries.
Many shoppers waited in vain for the power to come back on before staff advised them to leave the store as their generator had also been affected.
Kirsty Hunter, from Longniddry, was one of those who decided to wait and see if the electricity supply would be restored.
She said: “I just went in to do my shopping. At about 2.30 there was a massive [burst of] thunder and lightning and the power went out momentarily.
“They told us over the tannoy that the tills were down.”
ScottishPower said engineers had been dispatched to reconnect the homes, with power returned to the area last night.
A ScottishPower spokesman said: “There was a lot of lightning in the area and we suspect this was caused by lightning damage.”
• Additional reporting by Alan McEwen and Jen Lavery
NO RESPITE IN THE DAYS AHEAD
THE extreme rainfall which hit the Capital and parts of the Lothians yesterday is not likely to be seen again in the near future – but forecasters have warned there will not be any respite for the Capital.
The forecast is for more rain, and while most of the showers are expected to be light and brief, there is the chance that over tomorrow and Monday it could get worse.
The forecast for tomorrow predicts the chance of heavy rain between 10am and 1pm, although a spokesman for the Met Office predicted that while there would be more rain to come, it would not be of the same intensity which caused flash floods yesterday.
He said: “The rain will continue into Sunday morning. It will probably start with light showers, not as heavy as overnight but showers nonetheless, and the rest of the day could be just as wet. It will be fairly gusty on Sunday as well.
“There will be some dry parts but there will be rain throughout the day and it will be wet into Monday morning. Monday will see light rain at the start that should give way to showers.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North