A major Atlantic storm is set to move across the UK over the next 24 hours

Boat owners are being urged to make their vessels secure as storm-force winds are forecast to hit some regions tonight.

A major Atlantic storm is set to move across the UK over the next 24

hours, bringing some heavy rain and very strong winds to parts of

England and Wales.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for potential disruption from both the strong winds and the rainfall.

The storm is set to deepen rapidly just to the south west of the UK

late today, before moving into western areas in the very early hours of

Monday morning.

It’s then expected to track rapidly across the

country, moving off into the North Sea by late morning – by which time

the strongest winds will have passed.

Gusts of 60-70mph are

expected in southern parts of England and Wales, with gusts of 80mph or

more in places – particularly around southern and south western coasts.

Heavy rain will accompany the storm, with a chance of some localised surface water flooding.

‘Stay away from the sea

The

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is among the organisations urging people to heed

safety warnings.

The charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are on call

24/7 around the coast of the UK and Ireland, but are hoping they won’t

be required to launch.

Colin Williams, RNLI regional operations manager, said: ‘The forecasters have given us plenty of warning so

hopefully people will be doing the sensible thing and staying away from

the sea tonight.

‘I know many boat owners are busy making their vessels

secure and ensuring they are in a safe harbour. We would advise everyone

to follow this course of action when severe weather warnings have been

issued.

‘The worst of the storm should hit overnight so we are

not expecting too many people to be out and about at the coast.

‘However,

we would urge anyone by the sea, on cliffs, jetties and any other

exposed areas at the coast to be extremely cautious.

‘The sea is always

unpredictable but there will be big seas tonight with large waves

washing over piers and promenades. These could easily swamp people and

wash them out to sea.

‘RNLI lifeboat crews are on standby 24/7

and will respond if they receive a call for help, whatever the weather.

‘However, I’m hoping our pagers will be quiet tonight because people have

heeded all the warnings and stayed at home.’

Pictures: Damage caused by severe weather to boats at Mengeham Rythe

Sailing Club, Hayling Island last week.

The Met Office’s forecast for the storm’s most likely track.