Discover the Dee

Flooding in Deeside


Drone footage of the damage caused by Storm Frank, Dec 2015             Damage caused to the Victorian Cambus O May suspension bridge

Heavy rain and melting snow can turn the river’s serene flow into a raging torrent. In December 2015, Storm Frank hit Deeside, bringing a month's worth of rainfall in just one day. The already saturated ground, alongside snowmelt, created conditions similiar to that of the Muckle Spate of 1829, once regarded as the most catastrophic flood event in modern Scottish history. The flooding on the Dee in 2015 has been described as a one-in-500 year event. Bridges and roads were damaged, with the 450 year old Abergeldie Castle nearly collapsing into the river. Ballater was floodied to such an extent that the caravan park was devastated and the local high street businesses and residential properties were submerged in dirty floodwaters. Vast amounts of damage and debris were distributed throughout the catchment that eventually made their way out to the harbour in Aberdeen. A vast clean up operation and volunteer effort followed.

  • This article from Ross Macdonald from the River Dee Trust captured the mood perfectly at the time.
  • Local communities worked alongside a wide variety of agencies and groups to provide emergency planning and assistance and to develop a way forward. More information from the community in Ballater can be found here. 
  • The James Hutton Institute was funded by the Macaulay Development Trust to conduct some research on the changes that Storm Frank made to the river. 

Flooding is unfortunately nothing new, with major floods been recorded in Deeside in 1769, 1920 and the Cairngorm Flood of 1956. Reportedly, the flood of 1920 drove the river into its old course at Inch of Culter, sweeping away crops and inundated the Maryculter bridge. With climate change predicting wetter and warmer weather, we are going to have to manage the catchment better to store, slow and filter potential floodwaters and become more resilience to these changing conditions.