WIRRAL residents are being urged to “be prepared” as gusts of up to 100mph are set to batter Merseyside today.

A red alert for the whole of the north west has been issued by the Met Office, meaning people should take action as exceptionally strong winds are forecast to hit the region.

A spokesman for Liverpool Coastguard warned the public to stay away from the coast and apply “common sense”.

He said: “Stay away from the coastline today if you can but if you do see someone in trouble, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

A Met Office forecaster said: “Winds of this strength can cause widespread structural damage, bringing down trees and also leading to loss of power supplies. In addition, large waves are likely to affect some coasts.

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

Although winds are expected to reach 80mph and could possible reach 100mph, the coastguard said they are not expecting events similar to those of December’s tidal surge.

“We haven’t got the tides this time because the tide is going out – it is just the wind.”

The alert is for 1.30pm today, Wednesday, until 9pm for Merseyside, Blackpool, Cumbria, and Lancashire.

But people should be aware that an amber warning for wind is also in place for Merseyside from 10am this morning to 11.50pm tonight and a yellow alert until 3am tomorrow.

The amber alert means people should 'be prepared' that transport is at risk of disruption as well as power supplies and large waves are likely to affect some coasts.