THE Met Office issues alerts and colour coded weather warnings for the UK when the country faces potentially hazardous and dangerous conditions.
Here is some help on what these warnings mean and what action you should take to stay safe when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
What does a severe weather warning mean?
The Met Office warns the public about severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to endanger lives or cause widespread disruption through the National Severe Weather Warning Service.
Warnings are issued for rain, snow, wind, fog and ice and are colour coded depending on both the likelihood of them happening and the impact of conditions.
In general, a severe weather warning means there is danger to life, prolonged disruption and strain on emergency services, transport routes and travel severely impacted and extensive damage to buildings and property.
While an amber weather warning means people should be prepared for the conditions.
What do the different colours mean for weather warnings?
Yellow weather warning
Yellow means “be aware”. Severe weather is possible over the next few days and could affect you.
Plan ahead and think about possible travel delays or the disruption of your day to day activities.
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 weather warning
Amber means “be prepared”. There is an increased likelihood of bad or extreme weather, potentially disrupting plans and causing travel delays, road and rail closures, interruption to power and the potential risk to life and property.
Be prepared to change your plans and protect you, your family and community from the impacts of the severe weather.
Red weather warning
Red means “take action”. Extreme weather is expected.
Take action to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather.
Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely.
Avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.
What is a ‘do not travel’ warning?
A warning not to travel unless necessary can be issued to people living in areas worst affected by poor weather conditions.
On January 18, 2018, in the midst of Storm Fionn, drivers were urged not to travel in Scotland and northern England as snow storms hit.
It was believed to have been the first issued since the high winds of January 2013.
What are the new thunderstorm and lightning warnings?
In June 2018 the Met Office created two new warnings – one for thunderstorms and one for lightning.
And history was made on June 30 when the thunderstorm warning was issued for the first time.
The Met Office said heavy rain in South West and South Wales could lead to flooding and difficult driving conditions.
It said: “Some 30mm-40mm of rain in an hour is possible.
“Where surface water flooding or lightning impacts do occur they are likely to be in only a few places rather than across the whole warning area.
“The greatest chance of impacts is in the afternoon, with the risk decreasing again on Sunday evening.”
How do I drive safely in wind, snow and ice?
The best advice is – don’t drive unless absolutely necessary.
But if you genuinely do have to drive, make sure you prepare in case you get stranded in a snow drift.
Take food, water, blankets, a torch, a first aid kit, a fully charged phone, a shovel, jump leads and de-icer fluid.
Make sure you clear all your windows – it’s actually illegal to drive if you can’t see out of all of them.
Try to stick to major roads which should have been gritted and make sure you have a full tank of fuel, and check the oil and other engine fluids before you set off.
Keep your distance – it can take 10 times as long to come to a stop in icy conditions compared to normal.
At least 20 seconds’ distance from the car in front is recommended.
Remember to drive smoothly and don’t brake or accelerate harshly, otherwise, your tyres will lose grip.
Keep the radio turned off or down low so you can hear the difference if you hit an icy patch.
If you do skid, don’t brake – take your foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down itself.
Drivers often end up stranded if they travel in snow, so only go if your journey is absolutely necessary[/caption]
How do I drive safely in fog?
Again, don’t drive unless you absolutely have to.
But if you do, then go very slowly, and keep your headlights dipped – otherwise they will reflect off the fog and visibility will be even worse.
Don’t drive close to the car in front, even if it feels reassuring to stay near someone else.
Keep your fog light on but make sure to turn it off if visibility improves as otherwise it will dazzle drivers behind.
Watch out for freezing fog as this is often coupled with an icy road surface, making driving even more treacherous.
How do I drive safely in heavy rain?
Before you set off, check that your windscreen wipers are working and that your tyres have enough tread.
Drive slowly and make sure you keep plenty of distance from the car in front as your stopping speeds will be impaired by at least double.
Keep your car heating on to prevent windows from misting up, and watch out for big vehicles such as lorries which could spray you.
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If you feel the car aquaplaning – skidding on water – don’t brake, but ease off the accelerator and try to regain control.
Watch out for flooding and remember that driving through water even just a few inches deep can cause serious damage to your car.