Storm Babet triggers UK’s first Red warning for rain since 2020

storm babet 1230z october 18 2023

Storm Babet is forecasted to bring heavy rains and severe winds over parts of Ireland on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, and the United Kingdom on Thursday and Friday, October 19 and 20, triggering the UK’s first Red warning for rain since February 2020.

The Met Office has issued a Red warning for rain as Storm Babet is forecast to bring exceptional rainfall and impactful wind to parts of the United Kingdom. A Red warning for rain, in effect from 18:00 on October 19, 2023, to midday on October 20, specifically targets the east of Scotland, including Brechin, Forfar, and Kirriemuir.

This is the first Red warning for rain issued in the UK since Storm Dennis in February 2020.

Rainfall measurements are anticipated to be between 100 – 150 mm (3.9 – 5.9 inches) within the Red warning period, with some locations expected to see up to 200 – 250 mm (7.9 – 9.8 inches). This substantial rainfall is expected to lead to flooding, posing a danger to life, affecting homes and businesses, and severely disrupting travel.

What to expect:

  • Danger to life from fast flowing or deep floodwater
  • Extensive flooding to homes and businesses
  • Collapsed or damaged buildings or structures
  • Road closures and bus and train service delays and cancellations
  • Dangerous driving conditions because of spray and flooded roads
  • Loss of power and other essential services, such as gas, water and mobile phone service
  • Communities completely cut off, perhaps for several days
storm babet 1230z october 18 2023 bg
Storm Babet at 12:30 UTC on October 18, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-10, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

Beyond the Red warning, an Amber warning for rain is also active from early Thursday to late Friday for eastern and central parts of Scotland. Within this region, rainfall levels between 70-100 mm (2.8-3.9 inches) are likely, with upland areas possibly experiencing 150 – 200 mm (5.9 – 7.9 inches). Additionally, an Amber wind warning has been issued, with gusts exceeding 113 km/h (70 mph) expected on Thursday, particularly along immediate coastlines.

In Ireland, MetEireann has issued orange warnings for several counties as heavy rain is expected to affect the country, especially in southern and southeastern coastal counties on the afternoon and evening of October 18. Rainfall levels could lead to localized flooding, with temperatures ranging between 8 and 11 °C (46.4 and 51.8 °F).

Heavy rain and flooding have already affected parts of the country:

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the British Geological Survey have also expressed concerns about potential flooding and infrastructure damage, while the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) advises extreme caution near coastal and cliff areas due to dangerous conditions.

Heavy rain is also expected over parts of south and southeast England on Friday, with more than 50 mm (1.97 inches) of rain expected in some areas due to a secondary low-pressure system.

It’s crucial for residents in affected areas to heed warnings and advisories. The RNLI advises staying a safe distance from stormy seas and cliff edges, checking weather forecasts and tide times, and carrying a phone for emergencies. In case of an emergency, the RNLI recommends calling 999 or 112 and asking for the Coastguard.

Low pressure is forecast to remain in charge of the UK’s weather into the start of next week, with the potential for further spells of wet and windy weather.


1 Red warning issued for Storm Babet – UK Met Office – October 18, 2023

2 National forecast – Met Eireann – October 18, 2023

Featured image: Storm Babet at 12:30 UTC on October 18, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-10, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

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