FORECASTERS have warned coastal communities to batten down the hatches for another weekend of weather misery.
The bleak forecast for the next few days comes as local authorities continue to count the cost of last weekend’s “perfect storm”.
The east coast, and in particular Aberdeenshire, Tayside and Fife, are to be battered by more high gusts, while heavy rainfall is also being predicted.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has also issued a special alert of the “risk of further coastal flooding” on northern and eastern coastlines.
Waves up to 17 ft high are expected to hit the Scottish coastline from Stonehaven - one of the towns hardest hit by the weekend storms - as far North as Orkney.
Dan Williams, of the Met Office, warned: “The public should prepare for further disruption. It is not going to be particularly pleasant weather, with amber and yellow warnings for some areas.
“There are going to be some strong winds, reaching 50-60mph on Thursday along the eastern coast.
“On Friday they will be fairly brisk, at about 30-35mph, rising again to 40-50mph on Saturday and 45-55mph on Sunday.
“It is coming in from the south-east so that will build up some rough seas again.”
He added: “There will also be some heavy rainfall, particularly in Tayside and Fife where there is an amber warning. There will be persistent rain for 48 hours.
“That could bring 20-30mm of rain, but up to 50mm in exposed south-eastern areas.
“There is also a yellow warning in Grampian, Strathclyde and south-west Scotland, which could bring 20-30mm of rainfall also.
“Combined with areas where there is wind, it will be pretty unsettled.
“There will be some impact, but hopefully not as bad as last time around. There could be disruption to roads and some localised flooding.”
Meanwhile, a SEPA spokesman said: “Areas affected last weekend may see more impacts over the coming days. River flooding may impact on areas across eastern extents of Argyll and Bute, Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh and Lothians, Fife and the Scottish Borders, however, rivers in Tayside, Dundee and Angus and southern Aberdeenshire are currently at greatest risk.”
Meanwhile, Scottish ministers have said they will consider emergency financial assistance for local authorities after last weekend’s “perfect storm”.
Moray and Aberdeenshire councils have already pushed for extra cash, while Highland Council warned they will have to raid their reserves as the damage could be as high as £5-6million.
Communities along the east coast were significantly damaged, with harbours at Portmahomack and Balintore among the worst hit.
Huge harbour walls were destroyed and council officials warned the public about unstable quays.
Highland Council’s transport director Neil Gillies said: “It is difficult at this stage to estimate a cost for the repair work.
“Right now we are assessing what we can see above sea level, but we will also need to carry out underwater inspections.
“The costs will be very significant. It will run into the millions overall.”
He said it may be the new year before divers get a chance to assess the whole damage.
He added that the authority had reserves of several millions, but they would be approaching the Scottish Government about funding.
Councillor Graham Phillips, chairman of the council TEC services, added: “The most important thing is to ensure that people are safe and sort out the financial side afterwards.
“There are also areas where people’s livelihoods have been harmed and we need to see that is dealt with quickly.
“We need to demonstrate to the public that we are getting on with it and we are not going to be sleeping over Christmas.”
Vincent Fitzsimons, the agency’s Hydrology Duty Manager, said: “Heavy persistent rain and gale force south-easterly winds have been forecast during Thursday affecting the Southern Uplands and areas north of the Central Belt - from Stirlingshire to Tayside and Angus.
“There is a risk of river flooding on Thursday and Friday in Tayside, Dundee and Angus with rivers in Tayside and Angus, as well as southern Aberdeenshire, at greatest risk. Impacts in these areas could include flooding to land and roads on Thursday and Friday.”
He continued: “There is a coastal flood risk for the latter part of Thursday and throughout Friday for the North and East coastlines. Areas affected last weekend could again be affected, and waves of around five metres are possible throughout these areas, with potential for larger waves from Stonehaven northwards to Orkney.
“SEPA will continue to monitor the situation and would encourage people in the affected areas to remain vigilant and be mindful of the conditions in their locality and when travelling.”
Caithness Sutherland and Ross SNP MSP Rob Gibson said: “We can be in no doubt that we live in the climate change era. Therefore the simple fact of the matter is that our infrastructure such as harbours are not as fit as they need to be to deal with it now.
“This will mean that much of our coastal infrastructure will have to be climate proofed to make it fit for purpose.
“It is vital that we get a clear picture of the damage done so we know what to do to repair it and more importantly strengthen our coastal defences and flood drains.”