'Danger to life' warning as wind whips UK

Flying debris could be a danger to life and cause damage to buildings as Britain is battered by gusts of up to 75mph.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings as the strong winds sweep across most of England including the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, the Midlands, and the South East, as well as Wales.

The warning is in place until 9am, with forecasters giving particular notice to Lincolnshire and East Anglia.

Gusts of wind overnight reached 93mph in north Wales and this morning in Norfolk, wind speeds reached 83mph with the storm pulling away towards the North Sea.

Widespread power cuts have also hit the East of England, with engineers fighting to get power back this morning.

In Scotland, drivers have been told to stay off the roads as persistent and heavy snow continues to fall, with the risk of it turning to ice.

Hundreds of motorists were left stranded for hours in snow on the M74 overnight on Tuesday and Wednesday, and authorities fear the continuing poor conditions could give the same results.

Disruption and cancellations are also expected to rail and air travel, with some rural communities at risk of becoming cut off and left without power.

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A reduced yellow warning in place in the central regions, the Highlands, Strathclyde and the borders until 11am said: "The cold northwesterly flow will continue to bring showers of rain, sleet and snow on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

"Some further accumulations are possible especially over ground above 200 m where a further 3 to 8 cm is possible locally. At lower levels snow accumulations will be generally small, locally 1 to 3 cm. Here the main risk is icy patches."

Early results of the strong winds were evident as people tweeted about missing bin lids and rogue recycling tubs on Thursday morning.

One tweeted she feared her house would blow away, while several found themselves woken by whistling wind at 4am.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have already been substantial snowfall this week, with hundreds of drivers left stranded in their vehicles on Tuesday night and thousands of homes and businesses left without power.

Rescuers were drafted in to assist on the M74 motorway in Scotland, where jackknifed lorries stopped traffic from flowing freely in both directions as temperatures plummeted to -4C (25F).

Speaking at Holyrood on Wednesday, Scottish Transport Secretary Humza Yousaf echoed the Met Office's warning that there could be more to come.

"I have just come off the phone with Police Scotland, who've advised that they will be upgrading their travel warning from a stage three to a stage four," he told fellow MSPs.

"That means that all travel should be avoided on those parts of the trunk road affected by the amber warning, namely south and southwest Scotland for the duration of the amber warning."

The Met Office says: "There is some uncertainty over the peak gusts, but there is a small chance of winds reaching 70mph in places - most likely across coastal north Wales and northwest England during the middle part of the night and then across parts of Lincolnshire and East Anglia early on Thursday morning."

The wintry conditions have been brought by Storm Fionn - the sixth storm of the year.