Storm Babet: Woman dies after being swept into river as hundreds ordered to evacuate homes
Police Scotland said the woman’s body was recovered on Thursday afternoon at Water of Lee, Glen Esk, where a red weather alert for heavy rain is in place.
Hundreds of homes had been told to evacuate and emergency rescue centres were set up as Storm Babet saw “exceptional” levels of rainfall cause extensive flooding and left thousands without power.
The second named storm saw a rare red weather warning issued for Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perth and Dundee from 6pm on Thursday until noon today. It was the first red alert the UK has seen since storm Dennis in 2020 with emergency services and first minister Humza Yousaf urging people to stay at home.
Police Scotland advised against all travel to parts of Aberdeenshire covered by the red alert, with assistant Chief Constable Stuart Houston emphasises "driving conditions will be extremely dangerous.”
The warning included major flooding, landslides, the prospect of record rainfall and “a danger to life from fast flowing deep floodwater.”
Weather experts have said the extreme weather could see up to 200mm to 220mm of rainfall in some areas of eastern Scotland, an amount close to the highest ever 24-hour total for a “rainfall day.”
Winds of up to 77mph also hit parts of Aberdeenshire causing dramatic scenes at Stonehaven among other east coast towns with enormous waves crashing onto beach fronts.
About 10,000 properties across Scotland lost power due to the weather. Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) confirmed it managed to restore services to some 7,000 homes by Thursday afternoon and was “working to reconnect” the rest.
Angus Council confirmed residents in 335 homes in Brechin and a further 87 homes in Tannadice and Finavon were asked to evacuate due to risk of severe flooding. The water levels in the nearby River South Esk were forecasted to reach the top of flood defences at about 9pm on Thursday and to continue rising in the night.
Temporary rest centres opened from 3pm on Thursday afternoon for residents at Montrose Sports Centre, and Brechin and Forfar community campuses.
One Brechin resident, however, told the PA news agency he would not leave his home should the local authorities attempt to evacuate him.
John Stewart, 82, has built a wall around his garden which he said had successfully stopped water from getting in during previous flooding in the town.
Angus Council warned it had “very limited sandbags” for flood prevention after road teams have been busy deploying them to resilience groups and around vulnerable areas and buildings.
The local authority staff also had to evacuate a building at golf course Carnoustie Links due to reports of “large pieces of aluminium sheeting coming off”.
Neighbouring Aberdeenshire Council also announced rest centres had been set up before the rare red “danger to life” warning for rain came into effect in the region from 6pm. The council has also postponed funerals until next week as “it is neither safe for mourners or staff”.
Elsewhere, Shiprow, one of the oldest streets in Aberdeen, has been closed temporarily due to loose metal on the roof of a building, Police Scotland has said.
Weather experts have warned transport will be heavily disrupted over the next few days. There could also be power cuts with some homes potentially cut off for days.
Power company SSEN said staff numbers have increased in its contact centres with the risk of power outages in stormy weather.
The utilities firm said 2021's Storm Arwen, which left thousands of homes without electricity, helped shape its preparations for the latest forecasted storm front.
SSEN's Graeme Keddie told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland Storm Babet was not expected to bring the same level of impact, but warned Aberdeenshire and Angus could see gusts of up to 70mph.
Mass train cancellations have been imposed by ScotRail ahead of when the red weather alert is in place from 6pm on Thursday.
Services have been suspended in areas where the weather expected to be worse, including services between Aberdeen and Elgin; Edinburgh and Aberdeen via Fife; and Perth and Aberdeen via Dundee.
A spokesman for ScotRail said: “Due to the red weather warning and the likelihood of flooding and poor driving conditions, customers on these routes are advised not to travel. The train operator expects line closures to last until Saturday, dependent on weather conditions and any repair work to railway infrastructure.
“Other routes across the network will be impacted by speed restrictions, meaning services may be subject to delay or cancellation.”
Multiple trees have also blown onto tracks causing significant delays to services including between Oban and Glasgow and Plockton and Stromeferry.
Elsewhere the Forth Road Bridge was closed, and more than half of CalMac’s ferry routes were cancelled.
Storm Babet, a complex area of low pressure that developed to the west of the Iberian Peninsula, was named by the Met Office on Monday morning. The storm will last until Saturday, the forecaster said, and is expected to cause flooding, power cuts and travel disruption.
Residents in parts of the Borders covered by an amber rain warning have been urged to prepare for some of the worst of Storm Babet's impact on Friday when an amber alert for the region comes into place at noon and runs until 6am on Saturday.
It covers much of the central and eastern Scottish Borders, including Galashiels, Kelso, Lauder, Duns and Cockburnspath.
The main risk of river flooding is expected to be associated with the Whiteadder, Blackadder, Leader and Eye Water, the Met Office warned.
Flood barriers have been deployed in Eyemouth and are expected to stay in place for some time.
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