Weather warnings guide

We warn the public and emergency services of severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to cause damage, widespread disruption and/or danger to life through our National Severe Weather Warning Service. This includes warnings about rain, snow, wind fog and ice.

These warnings are given a colour depending on a combination of both the likelihood of the event happening and the impact the conditions may have.

The basic messages associated with each of the colours are:

Warnings colours

The basic message associated with each warning level is:

Likelihood
High
  • You may need to take action as we are expecting ...
  • There will be ...
Medium
  • We should be prepared for ...
  • There is likely to be ...
Low
  • Be aware of the potential/possibility ...
  • There is the small chance of ...
Very Low
  • Be aware that there is a very small risk of ...

What the colours mean

  • Yellow: Be aware. Severe weather is possible over the next few days and could affect you. Yellow means that you should plan ahead thinking about possible travel delays, or the disruption of your day to day activities. The Met Office is monitoring the developing weather situation and Yellow means keep an eye on the latest forecast and be aware that the weather may change or worsen, leading to disruption of your plans in the next few days.  
  • Amber: Be prepared. There is an increased likelihood of bad weather affecting you, which could potentially disrupt your plans and possibly cause travel delays, road and rail closures, interruption to power and the potential risk to life and property. Amber means you need to be prepared to change your plans and protect you, your family and community from the impacts of the severe weather based on the forecast from the Met Office
  • Red: Take action. Extreme weather is expected. Red means you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely. You must avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.

Severe weather warnings are available to you in a number of ways, meaning you can always access the latest information wherever you are. This includes on radio, TV, the Met Office website, social media, smart phone apps, RSS and via email alerts.

You can help by passing these warnings on to family and friends, or by sharing them on Facebook, Twitter and other social media with you friends and followers.

What information and advice can I get from the Met Office?

Where do I find weather warnings?

Warnings information is displayed through our website keeping you up to date with the latest information wherever you are on our site including:

Homepage banner

When a warning is in force there will be a ticker on the homepage. This will provide information on the colour of the warning and the regions affected. Click on a region to view the detail of the warning.

Homepage ticker

Symbol overview

The symbol overview is displayed in the header of every page. The five warning type symbols are coloured depending on the highest level warning of that type in force in the UK. Click on a symbol to view the detail of the warning.

Warnings overview icons

 Warnings overview tab

Warnings overview tab

We issue warnings for rain, snow, wind, fog and ice. These warnings will be given a colour depending on a combination of both the likelihood of the event happening and the impact the conditions may have.  

The warnings overview tab provides a visual display of warnings which are in force across the UK each day. The thumbnails provide a quick overview of warnings for a particular day. Click on the appropriate thumbnail to see more detail of the warnings for that day.

The UK map show warnings which are in force for the selected day, click on a warning to see validity times for each warning. The list on the right of the screen shows the regions for which we issue warnings. Clicking on a region will take you to the warnings details tab which shows the details of the warning.

You can pan and zoom around the map using the controls in the top left of the map or by using your mouse to click and drag the map and the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. The coloured areas show where the warning is valid ranging from yellow (least severe) to red (most severe). The symbols identify the type of warning shown in the key below.

Warnings icons

Warning details tab

Warnings detail tab

The details tab provides further details about each of the warnings plus the Chief Forecasters Assessment.

The centre panel of the page is where you will find the detail about the warning you have selected. This will include the type and colour of warning, issue, start and end times and the text of the warning.

You view the chief forecaster's assessment and the impact matrix which shows why the warning was assigned its colour.

If you have selected a region from the list and more than one warning is in force for that area, then these will all be listed in order of severity. You can expand and contract the different warnings by clicking on the + and - symbol.

The local authorities affected are listed underneath the table.

Dual warnings

Previously warnings were limited to one individual weather element. However there are occasions where warning for one element doesn't fully reflect the meteorological situation. For example, a storm may bring impacts from both wind and rain. We are now able to issue dual weather element warnings, for example: wind and rain; snow and ice.

What is a Dual Warning?

A dual warning is one warning, covering one geographical area, with one validity period. It will have two weather elements associated with it but only one likelihood level and one impact level in the risk matrix, therefore one colour.

Which two elements can be put together to form a warning?

Any of the five types of weather warnings, Wind, Rain, Snow, Ice and Fog can form a dual warning in any combination but only two NOT three or more. So in theory Wind and Snow could be a dual warning. In practice there are certain weather types that are more likely to form a dual warning; the most likely is Wind and Rain.

Can there be other warnings out at the same time?

Yes. Dual warnings and single element warnings can be in force at the same time.

Will there be a completely new set of warning icons to learn and understand?

No, they will remain the same as the current warning icons. However, a dual warning will display both the relevant icons.

Once issued, NSWWS warnings regularly get updated, what happens if one weather element becomes more 'impactful' than the other?

If the impacts from one element look like being at a higher level than the impacts from the other, then the warning is likely to be updated to a single warning of the more impactful element with the lesser element either being mentioned within the single warning or a separate warning being issued for that element.

Last updated: 6 October 2014