Forecasters have warned that potentially life-threatening gusts of up to 90mph could hit the UK with the arrival of Storm Caroline.
The Met Office has raised the level of its weather warning from yellow to an amber “be prepared” for northern Scotland on Thursday. Transport is likely to be disrupted and there may also be power cuts.
The strong wind warning will be in place from 6am until 11.55pm on Thursday, with an amber warning for northern Scotland.
A yellow “be aware” warning will be in force for the southern half of Scotland and parts of the north of Northern Ireland between 6am and 6pm on 7 December.
The Met Office said gusts of 70mph to 80mph were expected widely in northern Scotland, with gusts of up to 90mph possible in exposed areas.
It said: “Flying debris is likely and could lead to injuries or danger to life. Some damage to buildings is possible, such as tiles blowing off roofs.
“Longer journey times and cancellations are likely as road, rail, air and ferry services may be affected. There is a good chance that power cuts may also occur.
“Large waves are expected and beach material may be thrown on to coastal roads, seafronts and properties.”
The yellow warning for the southern half of Scotland and Northern Ireland says gusts of 60mph to 70mph are expected quite widely, with gusts of up to 80mph possible over high ground and around exposed coasts.
It warns of possible disruption to travel and some short-term loss of power and other services.
Coastal routes, seafronts and coastal communities are likely to be affected by spray or large waves.
Conditions will start to turn wet and blustery on Wednesday, especially across the north and north-west of the UK, before the gales hit on Thursday.
The Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said: “Wednesday will see the last of the mild days, with temperatures in double figures, between 10C and 12C (50F-54F).
“Overnight, the main feature will be the increase in wind as Caroline starts to come in towards the end of the night.”
Dozens of workers are being removed from a North Sea platform due to safety fears over weather conditions caused by Caroline.
CNR International said a total of 69 of the 159 staff on Ninian South, about 240 miles from Aberdeen, would be leaving the structure as a precaution.
Snow and falling temperatures are also forecast for parts of the UK later in the week.
A yellow snow and ice warning is in place for Friday for Scotland, Northern Ireland, western England and Wales.