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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 impact the weather may have and the likelihood of those impacts occurring.

The basic message associated with each warning level is:

  • You may need to take action as we are expecting ...  
  • There will be ...
  • We should be prepared for ...       
  • There is likely to be ...
  • 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:  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: 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: 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 your 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.

Warnings header

When weather warnings are in force a warnings traingle will show in the header of each page, showing the colour of the most severe warning affecting the UK at the time. If you click on the triangle or the ‘Weather Warnings’ text beside it, you will be taken to the weather warnings page and can see the warnings that are in force.

Weather Warnings page

We issue warnings for 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 warnings page shows a UK map with the warnings for that day displayed on the map. The tabs at the top of the page allow you to navigate through the next five days and highlight the most severe weather warning affecting the UK on each day.

The warnings in force are listed in the side panel, by clicking on each one you are able to see the warning detail. When you open a warning in the side panel, this warnings is brought to the fore on the map with a border and its label highlighted. This will help you see clearly which warning detail relates to which warning ont he map, particularly when there are multiple warnings, or where warnings overlap. You can also click on the label on the map to bring that warning to the fore and open up the corresponding warning detail within the side panel.

By clicking on 'Further details' within each warning detail you will be taken down the page to further information about the warning including:

  • the list of regions and local authorities affected
  • the Chief Forecasters assessment
  • the impact matrix

You can use the links at the bottom of  the map to share the warnings with your family and friends throug social media or by copying and sharing the URL. You will also find additional links to stay up to date with the warnings through our mobile apps, social media or email alerts. 

Regional Warnings

To find warnings affecting your region, click on the search box at the top of the side panel and type in the region of your choice. This will take you to a regional warnings page which filters the warnings to show those warnings that are affecting and not affecting your chosen region. You can also reach this regional warnings page by clicking through from the homepage banner.

The day tabs now highlight the most severe warning affecting your chosen region for each day. The map zooms and centres the chosen region and gives the area a black outline to clarify the boundary for the chosen region.

Location warnings

 If you have clicked through to a warning from a forecast location page, or searched for a location on the new warning page you will be taken to a location specific warnings page.

This page filters the warnings to highlight those affecting and not affecting your chosen location. Those not affecting your chosen location are listed in order of severity with the distance of each warning from your location given in miles.

The day tabs highlight the most severe warning affecting your chosen location each day. The map is zoomed into your location with the location pinned on the map.

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.

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