Strong winds and ‘confused’ weather forecast for UK

A swathe of strong winds are expected to sweep across the UK ahead of the weekend, bringing the potential for travel disruption and flooding.

Gusts of up to 70mph were forecast to batter coastal areas on Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday, with a Met Office yellow warning covering the west of Britain and much of Northern Ireland due to expire at 4am.

This will be replaced by a wider yellow warning of strong winds stretching across England, Wales and parts of Scotland and lasting until 6pm on Friday.

Gusts of 45 to 50mph are forecast for inland areas, reaching up to 60mph around coasts and hills.

The Met Office said strong winds could lead to some delays to road, rail, air and ferry transport and possibly some temporary power disruption.

Emergency services have urged the public to take extra care in the windy conditions, particularly along the coast where many people are enjoying August beach breaks.

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Met Office meteorologist Emma Salter said it was "unusual" to have such stormy weather this time of year and emphasised its warnings were issued based on the potential impact of conditions.

She said: "If we had this set-up say in January or February we probably wouldn't be issuing a warning, because 40, 50, 60 mphs on the coast isn't going to do much damage."

But she added: "This time of year, when the trees are in full leaf they can be uprooted a lot more easily."

Ms Salter continued: "Corona aside, there's a lot of holidaymakers out, people in tents, it's the weekend, there's going to be a lot of traffic on the road, a lot of people camping... that's why we've got the warning out."

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In the south west, HM Coastguard has warned of "dangerous sea conditions" with "large swells, strong winds & spring tides" expected.

Devon and Cornwall Police warned the public to be wary of "storm conditions" across their region, particularly on the coast where waves could reach up to nine feet high.

The force said strong winds could bring "dangerous seas and strong rip currents" and urged beachgoers to check tide times, stick to life-guarded beaches, be aware watersports may be unsafe and avoid storm watching.

Shortly before midnight on Thursday, the Environment Agency had in place 42 flood alerts and 22 flood warnings, which urge people to take immediate action, largely along the south and south-west coastline of England.

It warned a combination of high spring tides, strong winds and large waves could cause property flooding.

Natural Resources Wales has issued seven flood warnings for the south-west of the country, and urged people to be "vigilant" on the coast due to strong winds and high waves.

Ms Salter said forecasters are generally expected "confused" weather on Friday with a mixture of "on-off sunshine and showers" across the country.

"The showers are going to blow through quite quickly, so wherever it starts raining it's going to be like a short, sharp, heavens open downpour and then it will roll away quite quickly," she said.

Temperatures could reach a maximum of 24 or 25C in London, and up to 20 or 21C in Newcastle, 22C in Manchester and 20C in Aberdeen.