Weather: Scotland’s west coast faces new flood risk

HIGH tides amid heavy rain and strong winds along Scotland’s west coast pose a new flooding risk on Friday on top of tomorrow’s expected downpours, the Met Office said today in its third severe warning this week.

Locals clean up Whitesands in Dumfries, Scotland. Picture: agency

However, the grim outlook for the first days of 2014 came as first footers were expecting some respite as conditions were forecast to settle briefly as the Bells signal the New Year.

The latest yellow - “be aware” - warning for Friday follows one already in force from 9am on New Year’s Day.

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A previous warning, for yesterday, was followed by torrential rain and flooding in parts of south west Scotland.

Locals clean up Whitesands in Dumfries, Scotland. Picture: agency

The Scottish Government today activated the Bellwin scheme to help local authorities with the cost of dealing with the storms.

Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said today that on Monday 150 people had been evacuated and 100 properties hit by some of the worst flooding ever recorded in Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire and the Borders.

He said: I’d like to pay tribute to all those involved in supporting communities affected in locations there and elsewhere around Scotland.

“The councils, local fire and rescue services, other emergency services and utility companies have reacted very swiftly to minimise the impact of rising water levels and establish welfare centres for affected communities.”

The River Clyde at Carmyle near Glasgow

A Scottish Government spokeswoman added: “More rain is forecast for later this week, with some localised flooding possible on Wednesday afternoon and evening in Tayside, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

“On Friday, flooding is possible in the same areas, with others across Scotland possibly being affected.

“Saturated ground conditions mean river catchments are unusually sensitive to the kinds of rainfall events we have experienced in recent days, so individuals need to be vigilant over the coming days when alerts are in force.”

Finance secretary John Swinney said: “It is vital that nothing should deter local authorities from moving quickly to recovery and repair the extensive damage caused by this weekend’s storms.

The River Clyde at Carmyle near Glasgow

“That is why I have today agreed to activate the Bellwin scheme, which provides support to affected councils to assist with immediate and unforeseen costs of dealing with the aftermath of the severe weather.”

Friday’s Met Office alert covers western Scotland as far north as Mallaig, including inland areas in Argyll, Perthshire, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

The warning will be in force on Friday until 9pm, and also encompasses the entire Northern Irish coast and English and Welsh west coast, and most of the English south coast.

The Met Office said a further low pressure system would sweep in from the Atlantic, bringing heavy rain and “very strong” winds.

A spokesman said: “Another spell of unsettled weather is expected on Friday, with further wet and windy conditions likely across western areas in particular.

“Tides will be very high, and the public should be aware of the risk of flooding, particularly in coastal districts.”

Meanwhile, the yellow warning for tomorrow - first issued on Sunday - covers south west Scotland and an area north of the Central Belt between Argyll and Aberdeenshire.

The Met Office said 20mm (0.8in) of rain or more could be expected.

It said: “Another spell of wet weather is expected to move northeastwards across Northern Ireland during Wednesday morning and across north west England and Scotland during the afternoon and evening.

“The rain will become persistent and heavy for a time before clearing away from Scotland on Wednesday night.

“With further heavy rain falling on already saturated ground, the public should be aware of the potential for localised flooding.”

The week’s first weather warning - which included an amber “be prepared” alert in south west Scotland, led to dozens of homes being flooded and several main roads blocked.

Seven people, including four children, were airlifted to safety from a farmhouse at Closeburn, near Thornhill in Dumfries and Galloway, by a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Gannet at Prestwick in Ayrshire.

Some 40 houses at Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway were evacuated, as were 25 in Dumfries after the River Nith burst its banks, flooding the Whitesands area.

The A709 today remained closed between Lockerbie and Lochmaben.

CalMac said strong winds had disrupted ferries between Kennacraig in Kintyre and Islay, and Mallaig and Lochboisdale in South Uist today.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency today had 26 flood warnings in force - 15 in Perthshire and 11 in the Borders.