SWIRLING winds and torrential rain are battering Bolton this afternoon – and the Met Office has issed a "red" warning for the North West.

The most severe warning available to the Met Office was issued ahead of anticipated gusts of up to 100mph.

Bolton Council has announced that it is in a "state of readiness" after hearing of the severe inclement weather forecast during the afternoon and evening.

A window has been blown out of the Bamboogy bar in Bradshawgate, shattering on the pavement outside.

It is not thought that anyone was hurt by the incident, although a police cordon is currently in place outside the bar.

A road sign has been uprooted in Junction Road West in Lostock, while shoppers and pedestrians in the town centre have been drenched and buffeted by the winds.

Although the worst winds are expected to hit more coastal regions, people are being advised to alter their travel arrangements.

Red weather warnings are very rare, usually occuring only once or twice a year, with the Met Office only issuing them if there is a "risk to life".

People are also being urged to be aware of the risks posed by falling trees, structural damage to property and loss of power.

Drivers on the M60 are also currently experiencing problems because of the winds.

Traffic is very slow clockwise between junction 8 at Carrington and junction 12 at the Eccles Interchange, with matrix signs set to 50mph.

There are also long delays in both directions on Barton Bridge between junction 10 and the Trafford Centre and junction 11 at Barton.

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."

More updates will appear here as they happen. Have you been affected by the wind? Contact us on 01204 537270 or newsdesk@theboltonnews.co.uk