The Met Office has upgraded the storm warning for Friday (February 18) to Status Red for parts of southern England and Wales.

Red weather warnings are rarely issued by the Met Office; the last one coincided with Storm Arwen in November 2021, but the one before that was in March 2018.

With this, danger to life as a result of flying debris is to be expected, as well as damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down; uprooted trees’ roads, bridges and railway lines closed, with delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights; power cuts affecting other services, i.e. mobile phone coverage; and large waves and beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and homes, including flooding of some coastal properties.

“The red warning area indicates a significant danger to life as extremely strong winds provide the potential for damage to structures and flying debris,” said Met Office chief meteorologist Frank Saunders

The areas on Status Red alert, on the southwesterly coast, include Penzance, extening easterly past Truro, through Bodmin, Holsworthy, around to parts of Bristol and covering Cardiff and Swansea in Wales.

Gusts could be in excess of 90m/h from 7:00a.m Friday morning to around midday.

“Although the most exposed coastal areas in the south and west could see gusts in excess of 90m/h, winds will remain notably strong further inland, with gusts of between 70-80m/h for most within the amber warning area,” Saunders added.

The majority of the midlands, up to Manchester remains under Status Amber with northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland under Status Yellow.

The whole of the UK is being urged to prepare, i.e. secure garden furniture and bins, avoid parking near trees, and to remain cautious – especially if driving.

National Highways head of road safety Jeremy Philips 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 trip and take extra care, allowing more time for your journey. 

“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.”