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9 December 2014, 15:26
Widespread weather warnings have been issued as a so-called "weather bomb'' is set to batter parts of the country.
Winds of around 80 miles per hour are expected to hit the UK this evening, with severe gales expected across Scotland for about 48 hours.
The Met Office issued yellow "be aware'' warnings for most of the country and has now upgraded them for the west coast of Scotland, the Highlands and islands and Northern Ireland to amber "be prepared'' warnings.
The rapid cyclogenesis - known colloquially as a ''weather bomb'' - is a deep low pressure system moving slowly eastwards between Scotland and Iceland.
Ferry services in Scotland have been already been disrupted by the weather and the winds are expected to whip up unusually high waves, with sea swells of up to 12m in parts.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has eight flood alerts in place for the west coast.
The Forth, Kessock and Skye bridges have been closed to high-sided vehicles because of the rising wind speeds.
More southerly areas of the country are likely to be hit by a second storm due to roll in from the Atlantic Ocean on Friday.
The Met Office warnings for wind from tonight run through tomorrow and into Thursday morning, extending by that stage to cover the whole of the UK.
Forecaster Kirk Waite said some parts will have ''a brief respite'' for a time on Thursday before the second weather system develops in the south-west of the country.
The Met Office has yellow warnings for snow in place for the Borders and east coast of Scotland
Much of Scotland has already seen snowfall and Mr Waite said heavy rain ''could lead to some potential issues where snow already there could melt''.
''The weather warning from 2100 on Tuesday to 0600 on Thursday covers the risk of gusts between 60 and 70mph, and 70-80mph in exposed areas,'' he said.
''Wintry showers moving through Scotland could lead to some very difficult conditions, even isolated blizzard conditions.''
Temperatures over the next few days will not be below average for the time of year, according to Meteogroup forecaster George Goodfellow - but the brisk winds will bring a distinctive chill to the air.
''We are looking at highs of up to 12 degrees in some western areas today, and even 10 degrees in the south east tomorrow, but the strong winds will make it feel fairly nasty,'' he said.
''Temperatures will be around one degree in parts of the Highlands in Scotland on Wednesday night.''