Savage 70mph winds threaten widespread chaos from tonight amid alerts for building damage, flying debris, power cuts and travel mayhem.
While inland gusts are not yet forecast to reach much higher, worrying weather charts show sea gales touching 100mph.
A yellow level-1 severe weather warning spans Scotland and the whole of northern England until mid-afternoon.
Brutal winds will whip up mammoth waves whipping up coastal floods and sparking ‘danger to life’ warnings.
Named this morning by Met Eireann – the Irish meteorological service – Hector will be the first substantial storm to swipe Britain this summer and the eighth since autumn.
An Atlantic low-pressure system of this magnitude in June while not unheard of is unusual, the Met Office said.
Government forecasters predict winds of between 55mph and 60mph across northern Britain with isolated gusts of 70mph.
UK weather forecast: Storm Hector to hit the UK tonight and tomorrow
UK weather forecast: Storm Hector send savage 70mph winds threatening widespread chaos
Unsettled weather this time last year saw 69mph gales batter Inverbervie, in Scotland, while in 2015 similar strength gusts were recorded in northern Britain.
In June 2002 near 74mph gusts were recorded on the island of Stornaway, in the Outer Hebrides, according to Met Office figures.
Tonight’s storm could bring the first 70mph winds to mainland Scotland since 1990 when a choppy weather system saw gusts of 71mph lash Leith, near Edinburgh.
Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said: “A low-pressure system, named Hector by Met Eireann will bring strong winds across Northern Ireland, Scotland and northern England through Wednesday night and into Thursday.
“This is fairly unusual at this time of year, and it will be the first named storm of summer.
“It will start getting windy in Northern Ireland through Wednesday evening with Scotland and northern England likely to feel the most impact through Thursday’s rush hour.
“We are looking at winds of between 55mph and 60mph with isolated gusts of 70mph.”
Jan Sedlacek / SWNS.com
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Most at-risk regions are Tayside and Fife; Grampian and the Scottish Highlands; north-east England; north-west England; Northern Ireland; Orkney and Shetland; south-west Scotland; the Lothian Borders; Strathclyde; Yorkshire and Humber.
Met Office chief forecaster Will Lang warned people planning outdoor activities to be on alert for disruption as the storm hits.
Journeys are likely to be delayed due to debris on roads and railway networks while strong winds could even knock out phone signals, he added.
He said: “Storm Hector will bring a spell of very windy weather on Thursday with gusts of 50 to 60 mph likely.
“There is a small chance of injuries and danger to life from flying debris; disruption to outdoor activities is also likely, with damage to tents, marquees and other temporary structures.
“The strongest winds will reach Northern Ireland during the early hours of Thursday before spreading eastwards across other northern parts of the UK during the morning.
“Westerly winds are likely to gust between 50 and 60 mph in many areas and possibly around 70mph in some exposed locations.
“It is possible that amber warnings may be issued for some areas later on Wednesday or early on Thursday if this risk increases further.”
Winds will die down through Thursday before the weather returns to ‘business as usual’, Met Office forecasters said.
Grey skies should part to bring a largely fine and dry weekend with temperatures expected to hover around normal for the time of year across Britain.
Miss Maxey said: “Winds will continue through Thursday before tailing off leaving mainly dry weather with sunny spells.
“As we go through Friday we expect a return to business as usual; it will be a dry day for the southern half of the UK with spells of sunshine and perhaps the odd shower.
“It is a similar picture for Saturday with maybe the chance of further showers and some hail; on Sunday it will be brighter with a risk of showers in the east.
“Next week will be unsettled in the north and west while central and southern regions will be mainly dry and fine.”
The Environment Agency has issued flood alerts across southwestern and southern England into the weekend.
A spokesman said: “Local flooding is possible but not expected from surface water and rivers across parts of England and Wales on Saturday.
“Land, road and some properties may flood and there may be travel disruption.”
Netweather forecaster Jo Farrow warned another Atlantic low could put the nation through the wringer this weekend.
She said: “A new low moves in early on Saturday and could spin bands of heavy, even thundery showers right across the UK.
“So, the risk of hefty downpours blustery winds and a cooler feel to the air.
“There will still be showers about on Sunday but with bright and sunny spells in between.”
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