THE North West has been issued with a “red” weather alert by the Met Office over gale-force 100mph winds expected to batter the region today.

Last night Bolton was placed on amber alert, with “potentially damaging” winds of up to 80mph predicted.

This warning has now been upgraded to the most severe category available, which is used to indicate a threat to life.

The North West and Wales could be hit by 100mph winds between 1.30pm and 9pm today, with the Met Office highlighting the risks posed by falling trees, structural damage to property and possible losses of power.

A Met Office spokesman said: “During this afternoon a swathe of exceptionally strong winds is expected to affect western parts of Wales and then some northwestern parts of England this evening.

“The public should take action to alter their travel arrangements during this spell of storm force winds.”

Coastal areas are expected to experience the strongest winds during this spell of windy weather, with 80 to 90mph gusts forecast for parts of Greater Manchester.