Met Office Warnings

Hello and welcome to this special blog that I have been wanting to write for some time now. I am going to do my best to explain about Met Office warnings. Some of you know about the warnings already and how they work but even still I ask you to read to the end. Any feedback is welcome and this blog will be updated and amended as I will intend to use it going forward.

In the UK the responsibility for issuing public weather warnings is the UK Met Office based in Exeter. Their team of Forecasters monitor the weather across the UK and issue forecasts. They use all available weather model data and the Met Offices own weather model and when required will issue weather warnings. The warnings are issued via the National Severe Weather Warning System. They will issue warnings in consultation with Emergency planners, In Scotland the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Category 1 responders such as Police, Coastguard to name a few.

How do I get these weather warnings?

When a weather warning issued they will appear on the Met Office website. On the Met Office app, where on most smart phones you can get a push notification sent out from the app to you phone. Also via email and on Twitter. Depending on the severity of the warning they can also be put on the Met Offices other Social Media channels such as YouTube , Snapchat or Facebook.

Here is an example warning from the app for earlier in the year for the Western Isles.

and here is an example of a tweet from earlier in the year

The main place to see the warning is of course the Met Office website here

So there are different colours?

Yes there are yellow, Amber and Red warnings but this is only the start of it. From the Met Office website explains it in more detail

and they use this impact Matrix

Warning impact matrix

Yellow warnings are the most frequently issued warnings – This below from the Met Office website

Yellow Warning: Yellow warnings can be issued for a range of weather situations. Many are issued when it is likely that the weather will cause some low level impacts, including some disruption to travel in a few places. Many people may be able to continue with their daily routine, but there will be some that will be directly impacted and so it is important to assess if you could be affected. Other yellow warnings are issued when the weather could bring much more severe impacts to the majority of people but the certainty of those impacts occurring is much lower. It is important to read the content of yellow warnings to determine which weather situation is being covered by the yellow warning.

Amber warnings are issued a few times a year. Its been almost 6 years since we last one here in the Western Isles.

Amber Warning: There is an increased likelihood of impacts from severe weather, which could potentially disrupt your plans. This means there is the possibility of travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and the potential risk to life and property. You should think about changing your plans and taking action to protect yourself and your property. You may want to consider the impact of the weather on your family and your community and whether there is anything you need to do ahead of the severe weather to minimise the impact.

and finally the Red warnings. These are extremely rare and could be issued once or twice a year. Some years none have been issued. In the 9 years of running Western Isles weather there hasn’t been a red warning for our islands.

Red Warning: Dangerous weather is expected and, if you haven’t already done so, you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the severe weather. It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure. You should avoid travelling, where possible, and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.

Below is a simplified video version explaining about Met Office warnings

More can be found out about Met Office warnings here with the Met Office warning guide

What type of weather do the Met Office warn for?

Warnings can be issued for a range of severe weather from Rain, Snow, Ice, Thunderstorms, Wind, Fog, light and extreme heat. As show in the tweet about duel warnings can be issued. This is where two of the above severe weather is expected such as snow and ice.

Here is an example of a red warning and a duel warning

Tell me more about the Western Isles and warnings?

When a weather warning is issued I update Western Isles weather across our social media platform. I will also update my blog and go into more depth. The Emergency planning group on Twitter will also share the Met Office warning. The warning will also get disseminated to category 1 responders and others part of Emergency planning.
Now I am not sure if it is still the same but I have been in the past to a Western Isles Emergency Planning Coordination Group meeting where they discussed the weather warning that had been issued and the impacts for us in the Western Isles. When warnings are issued Schools can be closed, Various council services such as Buses and Sports centres can be closed.

Because of the location of our islands and the number of storms we get and the different impacts that we see. Sometimes a weather warning can be issued down South for wind speeds for example that we wouldn’t get a warning for here in the Western isles. We are much better at dealing with the severe weather and are used to it. But you especially know when an Amber warning is issued that the weather is likely to be extreme for us here.

Why Met Office warnings.

The Met Office do a fantastic job. Our Emergency Services work really hard in difficult and challenging weather condtions to keep us safe. From road closures to the transportation of key workers.

With the rise of social media, some people have been issuing their own weather warnings and it is something that has been going on for years. I don’t agree with it at all. I will always share Met Office weather warnings. But I will never post my own warnings. I do post my own forecasts with a disclaimer and talk around the severe weather. My forecasts also tend to be on a more local scale. But in my view, the only people that should issue severe weather warnings is the Met Office.

When people start issuing their own weather warnings it can lead to confusion and misunderstanding, as well as fear. For example, if one person Bob issues his own black warning for rain and then Jess comes along and issues her own green weather warning for rain. People will get confused by that and not understand when there are different warnings. I feel that weather warnings should come from one source and be consistent.
This is something that I am very passionate about. I don’t like it when people are confused about the weather because of misinformation. If someone is issuing their own warnings and issues them all the time. Someone may not pay attention, ignore or totally be confused when an actual weather warning is issued. Sometimes the severe weather can pose a risk to life.

I have lived on this island since 2004 and in that time people have been killed by severe weather on these islands. Our weather can at times be utterly terrifying. Warnings need to be taken seriously and listened to.
The Met Office do a fantastic job. Our Emergency Services work really hard in difficult and challenging weather conditions to keep us safe. From road closures to the transportation of key workers.

Thanks for reading. This views are my own and not representative of organisation or company.

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