The public is warned of the possible high risk of disruption in large parts of mainland Scotland with thunderstorms and heavy rain forecast by the Met Office.

An amber warning for thunderstorms has been issued from noon until 10pm this evening, covering the central spine of Scotland, from the central belt to Inverness. From the Met Office forecast for Edinburgh it looks as though the thunder will begin here around 9pm.

A further amber warning for rain in the north of Scotland will be in force from 6am tomorrow until 6am on Thursday. Additional yellow weather warnings are in place, and SEPA currently have 15 flood alerts active across Scotland. 

Met Office Chief Meteorologist, Steve Willington, said; “Yellow warnings are in place across much of the UK, away from the south, for thunderstorms and heavy rain over the coming days. Scotland, however, is expected to see some the heaviest rain and Amber warnings for thunderstorms and also rain have been issued here.

“Not everywhere within the warning areas will see heavy rain, rainfall amounts will vary from place to place. The rainfall could lead to some surface water flooding and disruption before it eases and moves south through Thursday.”

People in affected areas are being urged to use caution when travelling and taking part in outdoor pursuits such as camping, swimming and water sports. 

A meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) was held earlier today to ensure preparations and appropriate measures are in place.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:“The decision by the Met Office to issue the Amber warning for thunderstorms signals a potentially damaging and dangerous risk of flooding in some areas.

“Flooding could happen quickly, even in areas not usually prone to flooding. Some communities might become cut off if roads flood, and power cuts might occur.

“Please take extra care if you are out and about, do not attempt to walk or drive through flood water, avoid camping near watercourses and ensure water conditions are safe if spending time in the water.

“The Scottish Government is in close contact with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure people in the affected areas receive the latest information, advice and support where needed.”

Traffic Scotland Operator Manager for Transport Scotland Douglas Cairns said:“The weather will bring difficult driving conditions, such as reduced visibility and surface water, and there is potential for disruption on other modes of transport. The Multi-Agency Response Team will be operational throughout the warning period to monitor conditions on the network. Our trunk road operating companies have started drainage inspections at known flooding hotspots and will continue to proactively monitor them, using specialist equipment where required

“It’s important people plan their journeys before they set off and make sure their routes are available. The Traffic Scotland Twitter page is regularly updated and the mobile website – my.trafficscotland.org – lets people get the latest information on the move. If you are planning to travel  by train, ferry or plane, please check with operators to see if the conditions are having any impact on your services.”

David Faichney, SEPA’s Duty Flooding Manager, said:“It’s important that those out and about, holidaying, engaging in activities near rivers and streams or out hillwalking are aware of the hazards and stay safe. Some rivers and streams can rise to dangerous levels very quickly, so avoid camping near water and be very mindful of conditions if considering activities such as swimming or canoeing. 

“Fifteen regional Flood Alerts have been issued, and people living and working in affected areas are advised to plan their journeys and consider the steps they need to take now to be prepared, including keeping flood protection products, such as sandbags, in place in high risk areas.

“SEPA is working 24/7 to monitor rainfall and river levels and is in close contact with the Met Office and other partners to review the forecasts, which are combined with local expertise from all regions of Scotland to understand and present the flooding risk. We would encourage the public to remain vigilant, especially in isolated, low lying agricultural areas susceptible to flooding. The most up-to-date information is always available on our website.”