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Storm Hector batters North East with strong winds

Storm Hector has been battering the North East with strong winds as the region battens down the hatches.

Forecasters upgraded weather warnings this morning for the storm, which could bring gusts in excess of 70mph to parts of the UK.

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The Met Office has a yellow weather warning in place until 3pm for the North East for strong gusts of wind of up to 60mph in the region.

The yellow warning for cautions of potential damage to property, transport disruption and flying debris. Forecasters have described the storm as "unusual for this time of year".

Scattered showers are also expected to hit the North East, though the gales are expected to ease in the afternoon and give way to some sunshine.

Organisations are already being affected by the conditions.

A couple braving the winds at South Shields seafront

A couple braving the winds at South Shields seafront

The Shields Ferry has suspended services until further notice.

Washington Wetlands have announced that they have decided to close their site due to the weather conditions.

In a statement on their Facebook page they said: "We have made the decision to close our site for today.

"The cafe and gift shop will be open as usual but there will but no entry to the grounds.

Lifeguards at Sandhaven Beach in South Shields

Lifeguards at Sandhaven Beach in South Shields

"Visitor safety and the safety of our animals are our main priorities and we want to make sure everything is safe and secure for all.

"We'll update on the situation later today.

"Apologies for any inconvenience."

Much of Britain is now covered by a yellow warning, but the north and west of Northern Ireland - which will see the first winds hit in the early hours of Thursday - is now subject to a more serious amber warning.

Roker Beach in Sunderland

Roker Beach in Sunderland

The Met Office said injuries and a danger to life is "likely" in coastal areas in Northern Ireland, with the chance of large waves and potential for beach debris to end up on roads, sea fronts and properties.

People have been advised to take care during rush hour with potential disruption due to fallen trees and the possibility that outdoor summer furniture will have been blown around overnight.

Humberside Police said a 40mph speed restriction had been placed on the Ouse Bridge in Goole due to the weather.

The storm, bringing wet as well as windy weather, will move across Scotland and the north of England throughout the morning, and the yellow warning remains in place until 3pm.

The Queen and the Duchess of Sussex's first engagement together - opening Cheshire's Mersey Gateway Bridge and the Storyhouse Theatre - may be hit by strong gusts, with winds of 60mph forecast for the north of England.

Such stormy weather is "quite unusual for this time of year" forecaster Luke Miall said.

A bracing walk at Roker Beach in Sunderland

A bracing walk at Roker Beach in Sunderland

"The worst of the weather is going to be in the morning rush hour for most people," he said.

"The storm is likely to clear to the North East around lunchtime or just after 1pm."

Southern England and Wales are likely to escape the worst of the windy weather, he added.

A windy day at Roker

A windy day at Roker

A windy day at Roker

A windy day at Roker

Wind hitting the waves

Wind hitting the waves

Bins blown over in Whitburn as Storm Hector brings strong winds

Bins blown over in Whitburn as Storm Hector brings strong winds

Littlehaven Beach in South Shields

Littlehaven Beach in South Shields