What to do in severe weather

Heavy rain warning

We warn the public and emergency responders of severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to cause danger to life or widespread disruption through our National Severe Weather Warning Service. Make sure you know what to do when severe weather is forecast.

Keep up to date

The first thing to do is to check your local weather forecast and keep up to date with the latest warnings. Remember that you can also get this information on our mobile apps if you are out and about so you can always stay up to date.

Know the key messages

Warnings are given a colour depending on a combination of both the likelihood of the event happening and the impact the conditions may have. Each colour has a key message.

Warnings colours

Find out more about warning colours

Know what to expect and what action to take

The table below provides examples of the kind of disruption that might be experienced for each impact level (high, medium, low) and for each weather type (rain, snow, fog, ice, wind). It also provides some general advice to try and mitigate the impacts. Note that weather assessed as having a "Very Low" impact may still have some minor impacts.

Very Low

Low

Medium

High

Impact and advice applying to ALL SEVERE WEATHER

The weather is not expected to have any noticeable impacts but there may be some minor issues e.g. when travelling some extra care may be needed on occasions and there may be some disruption to outdoor events.

BE AWARE and ensure you access the latest weather forecast for up to date weather information.
Expect some minor delays due to slower traffic.
Outdoor events may be disrupted or cancelled.

BE PREPARED. Take precautions where possible and ensure you access the latest weather forecast.
BE PREPARED for some disruption to normal daily routines.
Travel only if well prepared and BE PREPARED for longer journey times.

TAKE precautionary ACTION and remain extra vigilant. Follow orders and any advice given by authorities under all circumstances. Ensure you access the latest weather forecast.
EXPECT significant disruption to normal daily routines.
Avoid all non-essential journeys.
If you must make a journey carry emergency food/ clothing/ blanket etc.

Impact and advice associated with RAIN

Some flooding of low lying fields, recreational land and car parks but little or no disruption to travel.
Wet road surfaces and possibility of ponding water leading to difficult driving conditions.
Take extra care when driving in affected areas.

Localised flooding of low lying fields, recreational land and car parks.
Flooding of a small number of homes and businesses.
Wet road surfaces and possibility of ponding water, especially in known trouble spots.
Local disruption to travel - longer journey times.
Water on roads - drive according to the conditions encountered.

Some flooding of homes, businesses and transport links possible.
Disruption to travel likely.
Disruption to gas, electricity, water supplies and telecoms.
Some evacuations may be required. Be prepared to protect yourself and your property.

Widespread flooding of property.
Severe disruption to travel.
Loss of gas, electricity, water supplies.
Significant disruption to communities.
Evacuation expected.
Significant risk to life.
Take action to protect yourself and follow the advice of the emergency services.

Impact and advice associated with WIND

Debris dislodged and some branches removed.
Perhaps some very limited travel disruption.
Difficulties on some prone routes e.g. cross winds on exposed or high level roads.

Some branches or trees brought down.
Localised travel disruption.
Localised problems for high-sided vehicles on prone routes.
Drive with care, especially on exposed routes.
BE AWARE of possible debris being blown around.

More widespread tree damage & other debris, slates etc dislodged from roofs.
Some minor structural damage possible.
Risk of injury from flying debris.
BE PREPARED for some travel disruption e.g. closed bridges.
Potential for some localised interruptions to power.

Widespread structural damage, e.g. roofs blown off, mobile homes overturned, power lines brought down.
Risk to personal safety from flying debris.
Potentially widespread and/or prolonged interruptions to power.
Expect widespread transport disruption due to e.g. roads blocked by fallen trees.

Impact and advice associated with FOG

Some localised non-persistent fog affecting limited geographical areas.
Take extra care when driving in affected areas.
There may be some very limited impact on road transport.

More widespread, locally dense fog affecting significant areas of the country but not persisting beyond 1 - 2 days.
Some airports may close for short periods.
Take extra care when driving in affected areas.
Journeys through affected areas may take longer than usual.

Widespread and dense fog affecting large areas of the country including a number of major airports and/or ports.
The fog is persistent and may last for many days in some areas.
BE PREPARED for some travel disruption.
Take great care if driving and BE PREPARED for increased journey times.
BE PREPARED for delays at affected airports and/or ferry ports

N/A

Impact and advice associated with SNOW

Small amounts of snow lying on roads and pavements so some slippery road surfaces possible.
Traffic may move generally slower than normal.
Take extra care when walking, cycling or driving in affected areas.

More widespread snow lying on roads and pavements but road networks generally open.
Care needed with only localised travel disruption.
Problems mostly confined to usual prone areas.
Take extra care when walking, cycling or driving in affected areas.
Journeys through affected areas may take longer than usual.

Widespread snow with a number of road closures, others passable only with care.
BE PREPARED for some disruption to road, rail and air transport with difficult driving conditions likely and longer journey times.

Widespread deep snow with many roads closed or impassable.
Roads likely to become impassable with high risk of drivers becoming stranded.
Significant disruption to road, rail and air transport.
Risk to personal safety.
Expect significant disruption to normal day to day life as a result of transport issues, school closures etc.
Avoid making unnecessary journeys.

Impact and advice associated with ICE

Localised icy stretches on some untreated roads and pavements are possible.
Take extra care when walking, cycling or driving in affected areas.

More widespread icy stretches on untreated roads and pavements but road networks generally open.
Take extra care when walking, cycling or driving in affected areas.
Journeys through affected areas may take longer than usual.

Widespread black ice, some roads passable only with care.
Possibility of road collisions and significant increase in slips & falls.

N/A

Further Advice

 There are a number of other agencies involved in dealing with the impacts of severe weather. For further information on what to do during severe weather please check the links below:

Content disclaimer

Every effort is taken to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate. This website is provided for information, and the Met Office cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or injury that arises from the use of this website.

Last updated: 26 March 2014