The Met Office has weather warnings in place for the rest of the week, with amber “be prepared” warnings for the north and west of Scotland on Friday and Saturday.
Gusts of 80mph are predicted quite widely, with westerly winds gusting to 90mph likely across parts of western and northern Scotland later on Friday and overnight into Saturday.
Ferry services to the Western and Northern Isles are already seeing delays and cancellations while flights to the islands are also likely to be disrupted.
Rail services could be affected while driving conditions are expected to be difficult, especially on higher routes, with restrictions and closures possible on some bridges.
The Scottish Government said its resilience arrangements had been activated to ensure the country is as prepared as possible for the severe weather expected.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “The weather fronts, including Storm Barbara, will bring particularly strong winds across much of the country over the next few days when people are travelling home for the festive season.
“The north-west and the isles will be particularly affected and the Met Office is warning of gusts of up to 90mph at the height of the storm, with wintry showers, heavy rain and lightning also expected.
“The Scottish Government’s resilience operation is actively monitoring developments with updates from the Met Office, Sepa and the utilities companies, as well the emergency responders in the areas likely to be affected by adverse weather.
“The transport authorities are doing all they can to help people get to where they need to be but safety has to be the first priority.
“Passengers should expect cancellations and disruption to ferry services and the operators’ websites will have all of the latest information.
“Those planning to fly should check ahead and rail passengers will get the latest information on the ScotRail website or social media.
“Motorists should allow extra time for their journeys and check the Traffic Scotland website before they set out.”
Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne is advising customers to pay close attention to weather forecasts.
Its operations director Drew Collier said: “As ever, we will do everything we can to safely deliver our services across the 200 miles of our network but, at the moment, it seems that significant disruption is highly likely.”
Loganair is making major changes to its services on Friday due to adverse weather conditions and said that several hundred customers had taken advantage of the airline’s offer earlier this week to rearrange their travel plans.
Managing director Jonathan Hinkles said: “We’ve now pro-actively changed our schedule for Friday to work around the weather, which includes a significant number of flights being moved earlier in the day due to the forecast conditions.
“We would urge all customers to check the travel advice before setting off for the airport.”
NorthLink Ferries said it was anticipating disruption and cancellation on its scheduled services between mainland Scotland and the Northern Isles over the coming week.
It advised passengers to consider alternative travel for services due to sail on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 December.
The ScotRail Alliance said it was monitoring weather conditions closely and has specialist teams ready to deploy quickly to deal with any issues caused by the storm.