Scotland’s weather: A tale of two climates as drought hits Western Isles

RAIN-DRENCHED communities have been warned to prepare for more wet weather this weekend.

Forecasters have put Scotland on stand-by for torrential storms and potential flash floods – with the notable exception of the Western Isles, which is facing the worst drought-like conditions in living memory.

As music fans headed to the T in the Park music festival in Kinross, the Met Office yesterday upgraded its weather warnings for rain to Amber – “be prepared” – for several parts of Scotland for today including Central, Tayside, Fife, south-west Scotland, the Lothians and the Borders.

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However, the heaviest and most persistent rain is expected to affect parts of south Scotland, and the public is being advised to prepare for the possibility of heavy surface water and some disruption to travel,

Stewart Prodger from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said people had to “remain vigilant”.

He added: “Sepa already has flood alerts out for many parts of Scotland and if the forecast heavy rainfall does occur then we are also predicting flooding in south Scotland overnight tonight and into Saturday. We’ll be monitoring the situation 24/7 and would urge those living, working or travelling through flood-risk areas to remain vigilant and use the Floodline.”

Transport minister Keith Brown confirmed last night that the Scottish Government was anticipating the severe weather that had hit England would move into Scotland overnight, bringing with it treacherous road conditions.

The heaviest rain was expected to fall during the early hours of today over the Borders, Lothians and into Fife.

Mr Brown said: “The Traffic Scotland Control Centre is monitoring the situation very closely and liaising with key partners including the Met Office, police, ScotRail, Network Rail and Operating Companies. ScotRail is liaising closely with Network Rail to monitor rail services, particularly in those areas that are prone to flooding.”

He said that Traffic Scotland website, digital roadside signs, and social networks were being updated regularly with the latest travel information, and he urged the public to check before undertaking travel but also take care when out on the road.

A spokeswoman for ScotRail echoed the minister’s warnings, calling on travellers be aware that it may take longer than usual.

England and Wales took the brunt of the wet weather yesterday, and at one point there were more than 130 flood alerts in place. Network Rail reported line closures due to flooding and landslides, while in North Yorkshire six holidaymakers had to be rescued from a flooded caravan park.

Forecasters have also predicted there is no end in sight to the wet conditions, with the Olympics likely to experience the kind of poor weather that has characterised the summer so far and will last into the start of August.

However, while most of the UK has been experiencing deluges, islanders on the Western Isles have been desperately saving water, having had little rain since April. They have been hit by a high number of wildfires.

Plants are now flowering in exposed river beds where salmon should be swimming and the reservoir at the Stornoway waterwheel has turned to mud.

Harris crofter Steve McCombe said: “It’s the worst people say they have ever seen. There is no growth and the grass is yellow. Some streams have dried up completely. It is definitely a struggle for crofters this year.”