Storm Freya is expected to bring strong winds, dangerous conditions and travel disruption to Britain on Sunday after what the Met Office announced were record-breaking temperatures in February.
Forecasters predict the storm will hit on Sunday afternoon and may be severe enough to cause injuries and danger to life from flying debris and large waves. There could also be damage to buildings and trees, travel disruption and power cuts
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning that runs from 3pm on Sunday to 6am on Monday. Possible hazards including tiles being blown from roofs, fallen branches and beach material being thrown on to seafronts and coastal roads.
Gusts between 55mph and 65mph are likely, with the potential for wind speeds of between 70mph and 80mph in some areas.
The warning came on the same day as the Met Office provisionally announced that February set a new temperature record, with average maximum daily peaks of 10C. This beat the previous record of 9.8C set in 1998.
Despite snow and freezing temperatures at the start of the month, the Met Office also saidthe average mean temperature was 6C, the second warmest on record.
Clear skies and colder nights prevented the total average from being beaten, but the mean minimum daily temperature was still “well above average”, it said.
It also provisionally said last month was the second sunniest February on record for the whole of the UK.
Storm Freya’s arrival will bring a much less spring-like start to March. Saturday will be unsettled, with wet and windy conditions in Northern Ireland by the afternoon and everywhere except the south-east by the evening.
Conditions will worsen on Sunday, with the western parts of England and Wales most affected. The Met Office warning covers large parts of the country, including Wales, south-west England, the Midlands, northern England and parts of southern Scotland.
Road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected, with longer journey times and cancellations possible, and some roads and bridges may have to close.
Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, said: “What we have got is a storm developing quite rapidly to the south and west of the UK. It will be developing as it goes across the UK and it will be bringing very strong winds.”
Wind speeds would be highest in coastal areas of Devon, Cornwall, Wales and north-west England, he said. The storm may also bring snow to areas more than 200 to 300 metres above sea level.