Parts of the UK have been told to prepare for some of the worst weather conditions for 30 years with gale force winds and flooding expected.

The Environment Agency has issued more than 20 severe flood warnings - which could mean a risk to lives - with East Anglia likely to be the worst affected.

There are nearly 100 flood warnings issued across the rest of the UK as huge tidal surges could push sea levels over the top of defences.

The Environment Agency said it expects up to 3,000 properties to be flooded over the next 24 hours. The areas most at risk of flooding include the North Sea coast from Northumberland down to the Thames Estuary and Kent.

The Met Office has also issued severe weather warnings for parts of Scotland and northern England as 80mph winds are set to batter these areas. Gusts of 106mph have already been recorded at Glenogle in Stirlingshire.

Elsewhere, a yellow "be aware" weather warning is in place in Scotland, parts of northern England, North Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia with wind gusts of 60-70mph expected.

Paul Leinster, the Environment Agency's chief executive, said: "Gale-force winds and large waves along the east coast of England are forecast during Thursday and Friday, coinciding with high tides and a significant coastal surge.

"Flooding of some coastal communities is expected and some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a tidal surge.

"Coastal paths and promenades will be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of people being swept out to sea.

"The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the emergency services, Met Office and local authorities. Teams are out on the ground checking that flood defences and barriers are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and issuing flood warnings."

People along the east coast of England have been told to be careful when near the coast. It is feared sea levels could be as high as those during the devastating floods of 1953.

John Curtin, the Environment Agency's Head of Incident Management, said: "Impacts could include flooding affecting some coastal properties and communities. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline."

Peter Fox, spokesperson for the Environment Agency, added: "The most important thing is that along the east coast of England the high tide will be hitting in the hours of darkness this evening and tonight, so people really need to take the daylight hours today to prepare for the coastal and tidal flooding that we are predicting."

The Thames Barrier will be closed to protect London from floods.

Read:140mph Winds Cause Travel Chaos Across Scotland