CUMBRIA is on high alert for winds of up to 70mph as Storm Erik begins to hit the county.

Motorists are reporting poor visibility on the M6 through the county, and a lorry has been blown off the motorway on the southbound carriageway before Tebay services.

A Met Office spokesman said: "There is a chance of flooding with the heavy rain that will continue for the rest of the morning and start back in the evening."

A flood alert remains in place along the Cumbrian coast, from Gretna to Silloth and St Bees Head to Millom, for the high tide at lunchtime today.

Some businesses and organisations are already putting preparations in place.

The forecaster has issued a weather warning for the arrival of Storm Erik.

While conditions are currently poor, the worst of the weather is not expected to arrive until tomorrow, when a yellow warning is in place between 12.15am and 3pm, with the north west expected to bear the brunt of the weather. Up to 50mm of rain could fall in the county.

The warning for wind, which is expected to see gusts of up to 70mph, has the potential to bring down trees and see widespread disruption on the roads.

The Met Office spokesman added: "People are being warned to be cautious while out as there is a risk of surface water, high-sided vehicles might find travelling difficult with the the risk of roads like the A66 getting closed to them.

"Power loss is expected and trees are likely to come down through the worst of it."