A FLOOD alert was issued late on Tuesday for Edinburgh and the Lothians – as Scotland’s summer looks set to become one of the wettest on record.
Up to 40mm of rain was predicted to fall in less than 36 hours – equivalent to almost half the country’s average for the whole of July.
Forecasters warned the public to expect heavy rain and travel disruption overnight and into today.
The Met Office upgraded a weather warning for south-west Scotland, Lothian and Borders from yellow alert to amber, whilst Central, Tayside, Fife and Strathclyde remained at yellow.
Sandbags have been handed out to residents in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh, which suffered chaos at the weekend after heavy rain left streets under two feet of water.
In a bid to reduce damage should the Water of Leith burst its banks again, council workers have handed out hundreds of sandbags.
Councillor Andrew Burns, Edinburgh’s council leader, said everything was being done to ensure homes were made more “robust”.
He said: “Across the city we are shoring up defences and will be deploying sandbags as a precaution. Council teams are on standby over the next few days to respond to any incident of flooding.
“We would ask everyone to remain vigilant and ensure they take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their property.”
Transport minister Keith Brown said: “Unfortunately some of those communities who were caught up in the heavy rain over Edinburgh and the Lothians at the weekend are now being warned to expect more testing conditions.”
The Scottish Government’s resilience team met yesterday afternoon to receive an update on preparations from representatives of the Met Office, emergency services, Sepa, Transport Scotland and local authorities.
Mr Brown added: “The Traffic Scotland Control Centre will monitor the travel situation very closely over the next 24 hours and continue to liaise with key partners including ScotRail, Network Rail and operating companies.
“Sepa will also keep a very close eye on the flooding risk.
“Traffic Scotland is alerting the travelling public in the affected areas and those who will be heading into the affected areas via its usual channels: website, VMS signs, internet radio and social networks.
“This is clearly a very frustrating time for everyone affected, especially at a time of year when they are entitled to expect some respite.”
Caroline Sharkey, duty flood advisor at Sepa, Scotland’s flood warning authority, said there was a greater risk of flooding in eastern Lothian and Edinburgh as rivers were expected to rise.
She added: “The slow-moving and persistent rain also means that there is potential for surface water flooding issues, which we expect to affect the west of Inverness, Angus and eastern Perthshire, particularly the Pitlochry area.”
There seems to be no sunlight at the end of the tunnel, with forecasters predicting the wet weather to run into August.
Leon Brown, meteorologist at The Weather Channel, a global provider of weather information, said: “We don’t see any drivers around the northern hemisphere to bring changes to the current circulation in the coming weeks.
“The below-normal temperatures are expected to persist until the end of July, and most likely into August.”