A rare red weather warning has been issued by the Met Office for “exceptionally” heavy and persistent rain across eastern parts of Scotland.

The red warning comes into force at 6pm on Thursday and runs until midday on Friday.

It is the first red warning for rain issued in the UK since Storm Dennis in February 2020.

The Met Office warns of severe flooding and disruption across southeast Grampian, particularly the uplands of Angus and south Aberdeenshire.

A ‘danger to life’ exists from fast flowing or deep floodwater, with extensive flooding to home and businesses predicted as well as collapsed or damaged buildings or structures, road closures and transport disruption, The Met Office adds.

Communities are also predicted to also be completely cut off, perhaps for several days, with locals expected to suffer “loss of power and other essential services such as gas, water and mobile phone service”.

Chief meteorologist Jason Kelly said: “Confidence has increased in the chances of considerable impacts from rainfall in parts of the east of Scotland from Storm Babet, which has resulted in the escalation to the red warning.

“One hundred to 150mm of rain is expected to fall quite widely within the warning period, with some locations likely to see 200-250mm, which is expected to cause considerable impacts, with flooding likely.”

He continued: “Storm Babet will track gradually northwards in the coming days, and although the most significant impacts are expected within the red and amber warning areas, there will still be wider impacts for much of the UK from this wind and rain.”

The Met Office said that red weather warnings are reserved for "very dangerous weather with a high level of certainty" and that "you should take direct action to keep yourself and others safe from impacts of the weather".

"It’s likely there will be a risk to life, as well as substantial disruption to travel and infrastructure", the weather service said.

David Morgan, flood duty manager for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), urged people in the affected areas to check for flood updates in the coming days.

He said: “Storm Babet will bring heavy rain and high winds across Scotland from Wednesday evening, starting in the south-west before moving across to the north-east through Thursday and into the weekend.

“Impacts from surface water and rivers are likely, and with catchments saturated from recent heavy rain and flooding, we’re urging people to be prepared for potential flooding.

“There is also concern that surface-water flooding may be exacerbated by debris blocking drainage, culverts, etc. as a result of the high winds.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf has warned against all but essential travel in the areas of Scotland affected by the red warning. 

He posted on Twitter: “Please be aware of the challenging weather we are due to experience across Scotland, most severe from Thursday 18:00 – Friday 12:00.

“Weather warning across Angus & the North East has been upgraded to Red.

“Travel should be avoided unless absolutely essential.”