Vigilance urged as last month's rainfall in the west revealed to be 90 per cent higher than normal December levels

December rainfall in the west of Scotland was 90 per cent higher than average, while overall Scottish rainfall was nearly two thirds above the long term average.

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Hundreds of properties have been affected by power cuts in the last two days, and around 2,000 people have received flood alerts on the east and west coasts, according to Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

Mr Wheelhouse said prevention work had "helped to limit the impact of flooding in Scotland" over the last week, while the majority of properties affected by power cuts were reconnected within six hours.

Mr Wheelhouse said: "I would like to pay a particular tribute to all those in our agencies, emergency services, local authorities and the local responders who have helped to keep Scotland safe and support local residents in preventing property damage.

"While Sepa and the Met Office continue to monitor the impact of the weather, and people should remain vigilant particularly around coastal areas and waterways, I am pleased to say that our investment in prevention and the fast acting work of our agencies means that, while some localised impacts were suffered, Scotland has not been exposed to the same level of flooding impacts and weather damage as other parts of the UK and as have been experienced in Scotland in previous years.

"Over the Christmas and Hogmanay period, including on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, Scottish Government and our response agencies have been working and acting quickly and successfully to protect homes across the country.

"And given Met Office forecasts suggest unsettled weather patterns will continue for the immediate future, we will continue to monitor weather conditions closely and, with this in mind, we are already beginning preparations for the return to work on Monday morning.

"We have clearly seen the benefits of the work that the Scottish Government is doing to support a range of partners such as local authorities to reduce flood risk and to coordinate restoration of transport services or power supplies where these were affected.

"The fact that - despite a tough financial climate - we have managed to consistently maintain the funding to protect properties at risk of flooding, which we estimate is at a level three times the rate per property at risk than is the case in England - shows how important it is to this Scottish Government and our local authority partners to protect our communities from the potentially devastating impact that flooding can bring.

"I intend to provide a statement to update Parliament on the measures we have taken over the holiday period and the preparations that remain in place for the rest of the winter period.

"We always look to learn the lessons from severe weather incidents in Scotland and other parts of the UK, and I am pleased that previous experiences have helped us to deliver a strong response, protecting properties and maintaining transport links."

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