Storm Abigail Warnings Upgraded

Weather warnings have been upgraded for the first UK storm potent enough to be given a human name.

Storm Abigail is the first such weather system affecting the British Isles to bear a name as part of the Met Office ''name our storms'' project, using names chosen by the public.

Initial yellow ''be aware'' warnings for rain and winds up to 80mph were issued for the Western Isles and the Highlands of Scotland on Thursday evening into Friday, but they have now been changed to amber "be prepared'' warnings.

Yellow warnings have been added for the rest of Scotland between 6pm on Thursday and 2pm on Friday.

The Met Office said the north and north-west of Scotland are likely to see severe south-westerly gales later on Thursday, with strong winds extending across the Northern Isles through into Friday morning.

The forecasters said gusts of 60-70mph are expected, with some gusts of more than 90mph in exposed locations.

Chief meteorologist Paul Gunderson said: "In terms of impact, the Western Isles, north of Scotland and Orkney could see winds of 90mph with potential impacts upon transport and maybe power supplies too.

"We could see quite a lot of lightning as well and high tides, so with that in mind we have upgraded to amber.''

Ferry operator CalMac is warning of likely disruption to services and is urging travellers to "think carefully'' if planning to visit the west coast.

Operations director Drew Collier said: "There is a clear warning that major weather related disruption to ferry services on the Clyde and Hebrides routes is likely later this week so I would urge people to factor this in when making travel plans.

"The sea conditions we are expecting could well be too treacherous to sail in.''

It is hoped the ''name our storms'' project by the Met Office and Met Eireann will help raise awareness of severe weather and ensure greater safety of the public.

Storms are being named when they are deemed to have the potential to cause a substantial impact in the UK and/or Ireland.

Abigail is the first on the list of winning names, followed by Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry, Imogen, Jake, Katie, Lawrence, Mary, Nigel, Orla, Phil, Rhonda, Steve, Tegan, Vernon and Wendy.

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