GUSTS of up to 70mph could hit the region this weekend, according to the latest forecasts.

High winds have been predicted across the country as Storm Erik prepares to batter the UK.

Road, rail, ferry and air travel might be affected by the gales, which have prompted a yellow weather warning.

Tall vehicles travelling on exposed roads and bridges should also expect to be delayed by the weather, say forecasters.

And the region's power suppliers have placed engineers on standby in case of any electricity lines being affected.

Winds of up to 80mph have struck parts of England and Wales already this week, which led to the closure of the Dartford Tunnel.

Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson said: "Through Friday and Saturday there are going to be more strong winds and heavy rain."

Samantha Loukes, incident manager at Electricity North West, added: "Over the next 48 hours, we'll be closely monitoring the weather to ensure any damage is repaired and power returns as quickly as possible if it does go off."

The wind is set to ease on Sunday, with speeds expected to drop to between 20 and 30mph.

However, it will continue to get colder throughout the weekend, with temperatures likely dropping as low 1°C on Sunday night and 0°C by Monday morning.