The weather warning for Storm Eunice has been upgraded from amber to red as extremely strong and potentially dangerous winds are set to hit the Anglia region on Friday.
Red weather warnings are rare in the East of England and the Met Office says flying debris could pose a danger to life while buildings may be damaged with significant disruption to transport.
The red warning covers the southern half of the Anglia region including Essex and Hertfordshire along with parts of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. The rest of the region remains under an amber alert.
ITV Anglia meteorologist Aisling Creevey said: "This type of storm comes around about every 10 years or so.
"Storm Eunice will be a powerful and potentially disruptive storm. The disruption will likely be amplified by the fact that the storm is pushing through during daylight hours.
"Regardless of how strong the winds are, this is the type of storm into which you really don't want people heading out and about if they don't need to. "Combined with all of this, there are high tides as it's a full moon and some very large waves will make coastal areas hazardous."
The red weather warning is in force in the south of the Anglia region from 10am until 3pm on Friday. The amber alert is already in force across the whole region and lasts until 9pm
The Met Office says: "Storm Eunice is causing significant disruption and dangerous conditions due to extremely strong winds on Friday."
The red weather warning says: "Extremely strong west to southwesterly winds will develop mid morning on Friday, transferring eastwards across southern and southeast England through the middle of the day then slowly easing from the west during the afternoon.
"Gusts of 60-70 mph are likely widely, perhaps briefly 80 mph in a few places, mainly on English Channel coasts."
What to expect in the red warning area
Flying debris resulting in danger to life
Damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down
Roads, bridges and railway lines closed, with delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights
Power cuts affecting other services, such as mobile phone coverage
Large waves and beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and homes
The winds are forecast to gust at 60-70mph over a wide area with stronger winds up to 90mph possible over the hills and around the coast.
The Met Office is warning of the possibility of significant disruption to transport and power supplies with a risk of strong winds blowing down trees and damaging buildings.
The region had an initial taste of the rough weather as Storm Dudley passed over the UK on Wednesday night with winds gusting at more than 60 mph in parts of Norfolk and south Lincolnshire. There was a wind gust of 64 mph recorded at Tibenham airfield in South Norfolk on Wednesday evening.
The red weather warning will start in parts of the Anglia region at 10am but there is already an amber weather warning in effect for the whole of southern England including the Anglia region from 5am until 9pm on Friday 18 February
The Met Office said: "Storm Eunice may cause significant disruption due to extremely strong winds on Friday."
The amber warning states: "Extremely strong winds are expected to develop over southwest England early on Friday, before spreading north and east during the day.
"Inland wind gusts widely in the 60-70 mph range but up to 80 mph in a few places.
"Around coasts of west Wales and southwest England, gusts of 80 to 90 mph are possible.
"Winds are expected to ease across western areas through the afternoon, and eastern areas during the evening."
What to expect from Storm Eunice
There is a good chance that flying debris could result in a danger to life;
Damage to buildings and homes is likely, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down;
Roads, bridges and railway lines are likely to close, with delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights;
There is a good chance that power cuts, possibly prolonged, could occur and possibly affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage;
Large waves are likely and beach material is likely to be thrown on to sea fronts, coastal roads and properties;
It is likely there will be falling branches and some uprooted trees.
The storm forecasts are constantly updated to focus on the areas where the largest impacts are predicted to be.
Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “An active jet stream is driving low-pressure systems across the country, both of which are likely to cause some disruption and National Severe Weather Warnings have been issued.”The Met office has said that pin-pointing the strongest winds and worst-affected areas is uncertain at the moment.
National Highways head of road safety Jeremy Phillips said: “We’re encouraging drivers to check the latest weather and travel conditions before setting off on journeys and consider if their journey is necessary and can be delayed until conditions improve.
“If you do intend to travel, then plan your journey and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey.”
Mr Phillips added: “In high winds, there’s a particular risk to lorries, caravans and motorbikes so we’d advise drivers of these vehicles to slow down.
“Drivers of other vehicles should be aware of sudden gusts of wind which can affect handling and braking, and give high-sided vehicles, caravans, and motorbikes plenty of space. In the event of persistent high winds we may need to close bridges to traffic for a period, so please be alert for warnings of closures and follow signed diversion routes.”
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “The strength of the wind brought about by Storm Dudley will make driving conditions extremely difficult for drivers in the north of the UK, so we urge people to delay their journeys until the storm passes if at all possible.
“Anyone who does set out should stick to major roads if they can, reduce their speed while driving and have a firm grip of the steering wheel at all times but especially when overtaking high-sided vehicles.
“We also recommend parking away from trees as the storm may well cause some to fall.”