Train services have been cancelled after forecasters warned Storm Caroline could cause danger to life.
The Met Office has raised the level of its weather warning from yellow to amber “be prepared” for northern Scotland on Thursday, warning of gusts of up to 90mph.
Some train services in northern and western parts of Scotland have been suspended, with other transport likely to be disrupted while there may also be power cuts.
ScotRail Alliance infrastructure director David Dickson said: “This isn’t a decision that we have taken lightly, but the safety and security of our staff and customers must come first.
“Our staff will be working round the clock to get services back to normal and get customers moving as soon as possible.”
Services have been affected between Aberdeen and Inverness, Inverness and WIck, Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh as well some Glasgow Queen Street routes to the west coast.
The strong wind warning is valid from 6am until 11.55pm on Thursday, with an amber warning for northern Scotland.
A yellow “be aware” warning is in force for the southern half of Scotland and parts of the north of Northern Ireland between 6am and 6pm as well.
The Met Office said gusts of 70mph to 80mph are expected widely in northern Scotland, with winds of up to 90mph possible in exposed areas.
It said: “Flying debris is likely and could lead to injuries or danger to life. Some damage to buildings is possible, such as tiles blowing off roofs.
“Large waves are expected and beach material may be thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties.”
Conditions started to turn wet and blustery on Wednesday, especially across the north and north west of the UK, before the gales hit on Thursday.
Snow and falling temperatures are also forecast for parts of Britain later in the week.
A yellow snow and ice warning is in place for Friday for Scotland, Northern Ireland, western England and Wales.
CalMac ferry passengers have been warned there is a high possibility of disruption to services.
Loganair is offering customers travelling on its flights to and from Benbecula, Stornoway, Kirkwall and Sumburgh the chance to change travel plans.
Drivers are also being advised there is a strong possibility of bridge closures and restrictions.
Workers on the Forth Bridge and Queensferry Crossing have been preparing for the storm by adding extra sandbags to signs and stacking cones to weigh them down.
A Scottish Government Resilience meeting took place on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the situation.
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Disruption is very likely but we will make every effort to recover the network as quickly as possible when incidents do occur.
“On Thursday, the strength of the wind during the morning peak period is likely to lead to bridge restrictions and closures and we would urge drivers to check ahead.”