The Met Office has issued amber weather warnings for much of the south coast of England on Thursday as Storm Ciaran threatens to batter parts of the country.

The forecaster warned that very strong north-westerly winds could disrupt travel and cause structural damage to buildings while flying debris could bring a danger to life.

Gusts are likely to reach 70mph-80mph in some areas and may exceed 85mph in a few of the most exposed English Channel coastal spots.

Roads, bridges and railway lines may also close while trains and planes are at risk of delays.

The Met Office said there is also potential for large waves and beach material to be thrown onto sea fronts, coastal roads and properties.

The amber weather warning for the South West of England and Pembrokeshire in Wales is in place from 3am to 1pm on Thursday. On the rest of the south coast of England, it is in place from 6am to 8pm on Thursday.

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Yellow warnings for wind and rain are already in place across parts of the UK between Wednesday and Friday.

Met Office meteorologist Clare Nasir said Storm Ciaran was “likely to be a notch down” in intensity from Storm Babet, but flooding could still occur because the ground is “so laden with water” and river levels “are at their highest”.

The meteorologist told Sky News the key features of Storm Ciaran would be “wind damage” and a “lot of rain”, adding the rain would “slowly move northward”.

Autumn weather
A car drives through a flooded area under a railway bridge as a train passes overhead, on the A26 outside the village of Moira in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ms Nasir said the storm would impact southern areas of the UK on Wednesday evening as it approaches, as well as on Thursday morning during rush hour, before it tracks northwards.

“We could see some coastal flooding because the winds will be so strong, particularly initially across more southern areas,” she added.

“It’s not a fast-moving system, so it’s going to be with us for at least two-and-a-half, if not three, days and most places will be impacted in some shape or form by this storm.”

Across the UK, the Environment Agency has issued more than 25 flood warnings following a prolonged period of wet weather.

Flooding has already hit parts of Northern Ireland after a night of heavy rain in the region.