Flooding closes A720 Edinburgh bypass

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Torrential rains caused the closure of the A720 on Saturday morning, after the Edinburgh city bypass was affected by localised flooding.  The key transport link was closed between Hermiston Gait and Straiton at around 9am on Saturday, but reopened later in the day. 

With the poor weather set to continue, a spokesperson for Traffic Scotland advised road users to expect possible delays and a longer than usual journey time.  

Traffic Scotland warned motorists in the east of the country to watch out for surface water on all roads, and to “use caution on all routes in Edinburgh and the surrounding area due to heavy rain that has lead to localised flooding.”

The heavy rains also led to the cancellation of the Taste of Edinburgh food festival, due to be held in the Meadows over the weekend, after the site flooded.  The organisers said that ticket holders would shortly be sent information about claiming a refund.

The flooding has been much worse in England and Wales.  In the early hours of Saturday morning, a motorist in his 20s was killed when his car came off the waterlogged A68 between Broomley Grange and Healy in East Tynedale, Northumberland, during a torrential downpour.  The Met Office issued a severe flood warning in the South West of England.  Over 130 flood alerts have been issued by authorities in England and Wales for this weekend.

In Scotland, 13 flood warnings were issued, in Edinburgh, the Lothians, and the Borders.

Other roads in and around Edinburgh were also affected by the heavy rainfall and some properties were at risk of flooding.  Yesterday evening Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue reported that it had received more than 140 flooding related calls during the day.

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson thanked emergency services and local authorities for their response to the downpours, and said:

“Heavy rain and in particular flooding is a matter of great concern to our communities. We are doing all we can to identify and deal with problems where they are arising. We are in close contact with emergency services across the country.  Some areas are worse affected by the heavy rain than others and in particular, members of the public in Fife, Kinross and the Lothians are experiencing difficulties.  Our emergency services have been working very hard all weekend to help deal with the problems the weather has presented.  Local authorities have also been responding to community needs.”

According to the Met Office, the heavier than normal rainfall is due to the transatlantic Jet Stream being far to the south of its usual position.  Normally the air current is sited to the north of the British Isles, but it is presently over central Europe.  The effect is to create a low pressure zone around the British Isles, leading to rain.  The unsettled weather pattern expected to continue for at least the next couple of weeks.