Storm Eva brings floods and gales weather warning for Northern Ireland
Gales of up to 70mph and rain squalls will batter Britain in the run-up to Christmas Day as Storm Eva sweeps in to lash western reaches tonight and into Christmas Eve.
Gales and rain will hit Northern Ireland from the west from evening, with a risk of more flooding in sodden Co Fermanagh.
The bad weather has prompted warnings from the Met Office and fears of further flooding in the north of England, as well as concerns about the effect on transport and communication links.
Flood warnings are in place across large swathes of the UK with threats unlikely to abate before Christmas Day.
While temperatures will fall slightly in the coming days, in the majority of areas it will remain far from cool, with temperatures still in double figures - dashing hopes for a white Christmas as forecasters predict a grey, wet and windy day for most of us.
Yesterday was the equal mildest winter solstice since records began, with the 16.1C (61F) recorded at Writtle in Essex matching the record set at Hoylake, Merseyside on December 22, 1910.
The Met Office said: "After the mild, unsettled start to December it looks likely that this theme will continue through until the end of the year with some spells of windy, wet weather but also drier, brighter periods with some showers.
"Going into Christmas Eve, a low pressure system to the north-west of the UK will bring a spell of wet and windy weather for most, with gales or severe gales in the north-west of the UK and perhaps locally storm force winds over parts of the Outer Hebrides."
Claire Austin, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said temperatures would dip to 12C (54F) or 13C (55F) tomorrow from today's high - still mild for this time of year.
"Gales will reach 60mph in parts of Wales overnight into Christmas Eve, reaching 70mph in the Western Isles. Gusts will reach up to 60mph in Scotland, 50mph in Wales and 30-40mph in more central and eastern areas, forecasters predict.
"Temperatures on Thursday will be similar to today, reaching around 13C (55F) in the South East and 6C (43F) to 7C (45F) in Scotland and Northern Ireland," Ms Austin said.
Christmas Day itself will see a band of rain coming in from the south-west in the morning, pushing through to affect the rest of England, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout the day.
Ms Austin said: "It looks like the warmest place on Christmas Day will be the tip of Cornwall, which will see around 13C (55F). Devon will reach around 12C (54F) and it will get cooler going north. The warmest Christmas Days ever were 15.6C (60F), twice - once in Edinburgh in 1896 and again in Killerton, Devon, in 1920. It is probably not going to reach that this year, but it will still be very mild for this time of year."
The forecast has not deterred bookmakers from predicting the warmest Christmas Day ever.
Coral has cut its odds to evens (from 2/1), and has it odds-on at 1/2 that this December will be warmest since records began.