The storm is predicted to peak on Friday, continuing over the weekend, with gusts of over 90mph set to cause travel chaos for Scots commuters and those visiting friends and family for Christmas.
The warning level for much of Scotland has been raised to yellow, with some areas increased to amber for Friday through to Christmas Eve.
Communities in the north and north west of the country will be the worst affected, but high winds are expected to sweep across the whole of Scotland over the next four days.
High winds have already seen bridge closures and the cancellation of flights and ferry services across the Western Isles and north west.
Energy firms have also warned that residents in the north should brace themselves for power cuts, with over 600 homes having already been hit.
Drew Collier, operations director at ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, said: “The west of Scotland is facing storms and high winds in the run-up to Christmas and the start of the following week.
“We would advise anyone planning to travel by ferry over the holiday period to take this into account and plan accordingly.”
Nicky Maxey, a spokeswoman for the Met Office, said: “In that amber area we’re expecting to see gusts of 80mph quite widely, with isolated gusts of 90mph.
“The worst of those gusts are likely to be later on Friday and into Saturday, that overnight period, in parts of western and northern Scotland. “Within the yellow warning area we’re looking winds of 60mph to 70mph, with isolated gusts of 80mph.
“There is the potential that these gusts could cause structural damage and bring down power cables, so we may find interruption to electricity supplies.
“It’s a period when lots of people are planning to travel for Christmas festivities, so certainly they should check with providers before setting off and expect adverse conditions.”
The Met Office said the storm comes as a deep depression moves north-eastwards across the Atlantic, passing close to the north-west of Scotland on Friday evening and overnight into Saturday.
SNP transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “Our National Traffic Control Centre will be operational across the period with our multi-agency response team active on the days leading up to Christmas.”
Storm Barbara will have moved on by Christmas Day, with the weather for next week set to gradually settle down as we approach Hogmanay and New Year.