People in England and Wales have been urged to prepare for the impact of the worst storms in years as gusts of up to 80mph are predicted to sweep across the southern regions from late tonight.
The Met Office has issued an amber alert, advising people to "be prepared" for potentially hazardous conditions, with trees likely to fall and buildings at risk of damage.
Any structural damage could trigger power cuts and transport disruption, while the heavy rains could also cause surface water flooding.
Darron Burness, head of the AA's flood rescue team, said:
The Highways Agency urged those using the roads tonight and tomorrow to plan their journeys in advance and sent out the following warnings:
- Drivers, especially those considering a trip with a caravan this weekend, are encouraged to think carefully before setting off.
- Be aware of sudden gusts of wind, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, motorbikes and bicycles plenty of space.
- Be alert for warnings of closures and follow signposted diversion routes.
Coastal areas, in particular, are at risk with the winds likely to be at their strongest. A spokesperson for the Environment Agency warned:
The Metropolitan Police, anticipating an increase of calls in the next few days, urged people to avoid calling 999 during the storm unless there is a real emergency. Instead, Londoners are urged to dial 101.