The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning for damaging winds across much of Victoria, including the Latrobe Valley.
It says damaging winds will develop across the state tonight and into Friday morning.
The warning is current for people in Central, East Gippsland, Mallee, South West, North Central, West and South Gippsland, Wimmera and parts of the North East forecast districts.
Locations which may be affected include Horsham, Warrnambool, Seymour, Maryborough, Ballarat, Geelong, Melbourne, Traralgon and Bairnsdale.
A low pressure system will intensify over southwestern Victoria on Thursday resulting in a vigorous northwest to westerly flow across the state before contracting to the southeast during Friday.
Strong to gale force northwest to westerly winds averaging 60 to 70 km/h with peak gusts of 90 to 100 km/h are likely to develop in the west late this evening.
The damaging winds will extend eastwards across southern and alpine Victoria in the early hours of Friday morning with the areas impacted highly dependent on the development and exact movement of the low.
North to northwesterly winds over the eastern ranges Friday morning may produce wind gusts of 100 to 120 km/h about the higher peaks.
Thunderstorms are also forecast on Thursday.
A separate warning for any severe phenomena associated with thunderstorms will be issued as required later today.
Winds are expected to ease over western districts by sunrise Friday, with winds easing over the central and eastern parts of the State during Friday afternoon.
The State Emergency Service advises that people should:
* If driving conditions are dangerous, safely pull over away from trees, drains, low-lying areas and floodwater. Avoid travel if possible.
* Stay safe by avoiding dangerous hazards, such as floodwater, mud, debris, damaged roads and fallen trees.
* Be aware – heat, fire or recent storms may make trees unstable and more likely to fall when it’s windy or wet.
* Check that loose items, such as outdoor settings, umbrellas and trampolines are safely secured. Move vehicles under cover or away from trees.
* Stay indoors and away from windows.
* If outdoors, move to a safe place indoors. Stay away from trees, drains, gutters, creeks and waterways.
* Stay away from fallen powerlines – always assume they are live.
* Be aware that in fire affected areas, rainfall run-off into waterways may contain debris such as ash, soil, trees and rocks. Heavy rainfall may also increase the potential for landslides and debris across roads.
* Stay informed: Monitor weather warnings, forecasts and river levels at the Bureau of Meteorology website, and warnings through VicEmergency website/app/hotline.