Forecasters have warned of travel chaos as the first winter storm is set to batter parts of the UK with 75mph winds.
The Met Office has issued an amber wind warning for parts of north-east England and Scotland from Friday afternoon until Saturday morning as a result of Storm Arwen.
The forecaster warned that flying debris leading to injuries or danger to life is “likely”, with people also told to expect damage to trees and buildings, public transport cancellations, road and bridge closures, power cuts and large waves.
Graeme Day, the Scottish transport minister, urged people travelling to take the weather into account, and said: “The whole country is going to see blustery conditions, but the Met Office is telling us that eastern parts of Scotland in particular are going to see some difficult weather.”
Yellow wind warnings are also in place across most western parts of the UK on Friday, extending to the rest of the country on Saturday.
Gusts are expected to reach 55mph to 65mph in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, south-west England and north-east England, with the highest to be seen in coastal areas.
Stephen Dixon, a Met Office spokesman, said: “The worst-affected areas will predominantly be on the coasts, with gusts of over 75mph bringing possible disruption to travel and longer journey times, power cuts, flying debris and large waves, with beach material being thrown around.
“There is also a yellow warning of wind in place along the west coast of the UK from 9am on Friday, stretching from Scotland, through Northern Ireland and Wales and as far as south-west England.
“This reflects the impact Storm Arwen will have, with strong winds likely to occur into Saturday, when the warning is extended to most parts of the UK.
“The south-east and London, though fairly windy, are likely to escape the worst of the gusts and remain relatively calm in comparison to the rest of the country, which will certainly feel the impact of the storm.”
He said Storm Arwen is moving in from the North Sea and will begin to travel south before easing on Sunday.
The Met Office names storms on the back of their potential impact, with Storm Arwen declared as the result of the amber wind warning.
Mr Dixon added: “As Arwen causes disruption there will also be the chance of snow in the coming days, especially in the higher regions of Scotland and northern England.
“There may also be some snow in the lower ground region of northern England, though this is likely to be short-lived and fall in the form of sleet or wintry rain.
“It comes on the back of a fall in temperature, with parts of rural Scotland and England to drop below freezing during the night.”
The RAC has advised drivers to prepare for strong gusts by slowing down and being “very careful” when passing high-sided vehicles or cyclists.
Spokesman Simon Williams said: “In extreme windy conditions, bridges may also be closed and trees may fall so it’s important to allow extra time for journeys.
“With forecasters predicting strong winds together with colder conditions, drivers should take this opportunity to prepare their vehicles for winter by checking oil and coolant levels, ensuring they have enough good quality screenwash that protects down to well below minus 10C, as well as having properly inflated tyres with good tread.”
Transport minister Mr Dey warned drivers of adverse conditions, and added: “There is the potential for disruption on the roads, especially on bridges, and people should check the latest information before they set off, drive to the conditions and follow Police Scotland advice. The Traffic Scotland service gives details of ‘wind-based’ closures for the bridges on the trunk road network, allowing people to plan ahead accordingly.
“Motorists should check Traffic Scotland before they set off to make sure that their route is available. The Traffic Scotland mobile website – my.trafficscotland.org – lets people get the latest information on the move and the Traffic Scotland Twitter page is updated regularly.
“The conditions are also likely to lead to disruption on other modes of transport, so we are urging people to take the weather into account if they are planning to travel on trains, ferries and flights.”
Reporting by PA.