Storm Barbara set to batter UK and cause Christmas chaos

Storm Barbara is set to bring strong winds and Christmas chaos to Britain, according to forecasters.

Gusts of up to 90mph are predicted to hit the UK, with the worst of destruction expected between Friday evening and Christmas Eve morning.

Scotland appears likely to suffer the most, while pockets of Northern Ireland, north Wales and north England could also feel the full force.

The storm has led the Energy Networks Association to setup a free national phone line for people in England, Wales and Scotland who have problems with their power.

People are advised to call 150 if they encounter power issues, after research found many people do not know who to contact if they have a power cut.

Forecasters warned the potential for structural damage and disruption to some transport services means the storm's impact could be felt long after the winds have subsided.

A Met Office spokesperson, Grahame Madge, said: "The most intense winds will be in Glasgow, Inverness, and the north and west of Scotland.

"But the whole of northern England, north Wales and Northern Ireland could also be affected.

"We are expecting gusts of around 80mph widespread within the amber warning area, up to 90mph in places."

Gales battered the west coast at Blackpool in 2007. Credit: PA

UK Coastguard has also issued its own safety warning ahead of the weekend and advised people to "think twice" about going out to the coastline.

"We always advise people to check the weather and tidal conditions before they set out so that they can either prepare accordingly or consider whether they should even be going out at all," commander Ross Greenhill said.

"At sea, changes in tidal streams can make conditions worse, particularly if the wind and tide are against each other and tidal heights may hide underwater hazards."

The Coastguard also warned against taking selfies or dramatic photos on the coast.