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How we forecast flooding

Scottish Flood Forecasting Service

This strategic partnership between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Met Office combines hydrological and meteorological information for the first time, so that both organisations can share their expertise to improve the accuracy of flood forecasts for the whole of Scotland.

We collect data from our network of over 250 rainfall, river and coastal monitoring stations throughout Scotland generated 24 hours a day. This hydrological information is combined with meteorological information from the Met Office, which our team of experts use to predict the likelihood and timing of river, coastal and surface water flooding.

The Scottish Flood Forecasting Service produces a daily, national flood guidance statement issued to Category 1 and 2 agencies, such as emergency responders, local authorities and other organisations with flooding management duties. Each daily statement gives an assessment of the risk of flooding for the next five days and provides organisations with valuable time to put preparations in place to reduce the impact of flooding. 

Read our guide to learn more about how flood guidance statements are used to help manage the risks of flooding.

The service also directly helps those using SEPA’s Floodline service, by providing more specific information allowing SEPA to issue more timely flood warnings and give people a better chance of reducing the impact of flooding on their home or business.

Read the Annual Report 2017-2018 to find out about the service's achievements, learning and aspirations for improved flood forecasting in Scotland.


Flood warning development framework

There is evidence that the frequency and severity of flooding will increase significantly in Scotland in the coming decades, therefore accurate and timely flood forecasts, and new and innovative approaches to how we produce and communicate these forecasts, has never been so important to ensure that we help Scottish communities, businesses and civil contingency responders to take action to reduce the impact of flooding.

SEPA has updated the Flood Warning Development Framework, which covers the period 2022 to 2028. The Framework sets out how we intend to maintain and improve our services over the next six years. It is the third Framework we have developed, with the cycle in alignment with the Flood Risk Management planning process introduced by the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.