Thawing and flooding - update 1

  11 January 2010

There is clearly a considerable volume of rainfall equivalent locked up in the extensive snow cover which, in many cases, is overlying frozen ground and has the potential to contribute to flooding. The pattern of thaw will depend very much on the weather at the end of the present cold spell. Should there be continued settled conditions with a gradual rise in daytime temperatures then any thaw will be gradual. However, if warmer weather also brings significant rain, this will add to melting snow lying on frozen ground and cause rapid run off into streams and rivers. River and reservoir levels are presently low and so there is capacity within watercourses to deal with a gradual thaw. Without a sudden rise in temperature and heavy rain, risk of serious flooding is low at the moment, although there is the potential for some smaller burns and streams to be affected. Surface water flooding may occur where residual ice is blocking free drainage.

SEPA monitors rainfall and river levels around the clock, using this information to update the SEPA website with flood alerts as appropriate. This information can be accessed through SEPA’s live flood updates and also via 0845 988 1188. Whilst the Met Office does not forecast any substantial change in the prevailing cold weather in the next week, SEPA is encouraging anyone concerned about the possibility of flooding to use these sources of information and ensure they are prepared and have plans in place should there be any issues.