Trapped motorists airlifted as Scotland suffers downpours while south enjoys sun

Ten motorists have been airlifted to safety after landslides blocked a main road, as Scotland suffers a month’s worth of rain while southern UK is bathed in late summer sunshine.

Forecasters have warned of a “danger to life” from the extreme weather in northern parts of England and Scotland during the weekend.

Rail passengers are being warned of cancelled services and reduced train speeds as operators prepare for the expected disruption.

The motorists were rescued by helicopter from the A83, near Inveraray in Argyll and Bute, on Saturday after they became trapped between landslides – and police warned people not to travel to the region.

The Met Office has issued both amber and yellow rain warnings for large parts of Scotland and northern England from Saturday to Sunday morning.

Autumn weather October 6th 2023
People enjoy the sunshine by Tower Bridge in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

The M9 motorway near Stirling was also described as “barely passable”, with lanes closed due to flooding.

Fine and dry weather in southern and central England, meanwhile, could see temperatures rise as high as 25C by Sunday afternoon.

Vincent Fitzsimons, flood duty manager for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said that flood warnings had been issued across Scotland.

He said: “I want to be very clear that this is not a normal autumn day for Scotland.

“We’re expecting extensive river and surface water flooding in affected areas. There is a danger to life. There will be widespread impacts to road and rail. There is a risk of more significant community scale property flooding.”

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship 2023
Play abandoned on day three of the 2023 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews (Steve Welsh/PA)

Dundee’s Scottish Premiership game with Ross County has also been called off due to a waterlogged pitch with Dunfermline’s Championship clash with Arbroath also being postponed after failing a pitch inspection.

In League Two, Bonnyrigg Rose’s match against East Fife and Elgin City’s home game with Stenhousemuir have also fallen foul of the weather.

Rail services cancelled on Saturday include London North Eastern Railway (LNER) trains north of Newcastle as well as several routes across Scotland.

Avanti West Coast also advised customers between Scotland and Preston not to travel, and said there would be no services running north of the latter.

Transpennine Express services between Manchester, Liverpool, Preston to Carlisle and Glasgow and Edinburgh are also affected.

Network Rail Scotland posted on X, formerly Twitter: “A month’s worth of rain is expected today, likely leading to widespread flooding across Scotland.

“With this in mind, we’re limiting train speeds on almost all routes to protect passengers, staff and the railway. Check your journey before travelling.”

A LNER spokesman said: “Customers are advised not to travel north of Newcastle.”

Tom Morgan, a Met Office meteorologist, said: “There is a huge contrast in weather across the UK, it’s very wet across much of Scotland where we have several weather warnings in place including an amber warning.

“This could cause widespread disruption across the region such as flooded roads, the potential for landslides and issues with the trains as lines are being closed pre-emptively.

“There could be a month’s worth of rain falling while for many other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland and Wales it’s unseasonably warm with temperatures of up to 25C and a small chance of 25C tomorrow.”

He said the contrasting weather was caused by warm weather travelling up from France meeting cold weather coming from the north with the temperature contrast leading to the heavy rain in Scotland.

The warm weather in southern parts was expected to last until Tuesday with the worst of the rain expected by Sunday in Scotland.

A yellow rain warning covering much of Scotland, active from midnight on Saturday to 6am on Sunday, could bring rainfall of 50-75mm in low-lying areas and close to 100mm on higher ground.

The Met Office warns this could lead to homes and businesses being flooded with fast-flowing floodwater that could be a danger to life with some areas being cut off by flooded roads and power cuts.

Within that is a separate amber warning covering Central Scotland, Tayside and Fife from 3am on Saturday to 6am the following day.

The Met Office said this area could see as much as 150-180mm of rainfall accumulating in the wettest spots with many areas suffering heavy rain already overnight.

Scotland’s Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop said: “It’s important people plan their journeys before they set off.

“Motorists should make sure their routes are available, follow the travel advice from Police Scotland and drive in accordance with the conditions.

“If you are planning to travel by train, ferry or plane, please check with your operators to see if the conditions are having any impact on your services.”

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