What is catastrophic windblow?

Catastrophic windblow is extreme wind that causes a threat to life and property.

Catastrophic windblow events can cause major problems for forests and society such as:

  • uprooting and breaking trees
  • preventing emergency services access
  • disrupting electricity, water, phone, gas services and public transport

While catastrophic windblow events are rare, their frequency, scale and location are unpredictable. 

Past catastrophic windblow events in Scotland

Date Region affected Volume of windblown timber (million cubic metres)
January 1953 North-east Scotland 1.8
January 1968 Central Scotland 1.64

The windblow contigency plan 

The Scottish Windblow Contingency Plan details the strategy for dealing with catastrophic windblow events in Scottish forests. It covers:

  • the processes that are triggered when winds of ≥80 and ≥90 mph are forecast
  • the steps that should be taken to prepare for potentially catastrophic windblow events
  • the responses that will occur after a potentially catastrophic windblow event
  • information about the forest planning measures that can increase the resilience of forests to storm events

Please note, due to Covid-19 any actions needed by this plan will follow Scottish Government and Forestry Industry Safety Accord (FISA) guidelines at the time of the event and during the following operational phase of the plan.