What’s the difference between yellow, amber, and red weather warnings?

Up and down the country, several homes and businesses are looking forward to a busy festive season. But while Christmas and New Year can be a thoroughly enjoyable and profitable time of year, there is always the possibility that adverse weather conditions will ruin the party.

Regardless of whether its high winds, heavy rain, icy roads or a severe snowstorm, Mother Nature has a habit of causing havoc when you least expect it. In previous years, some drivers had to stay in their stranded cars overnight, while several shops were forced to shut their doors for days on end.

Thankfully, there is a system in place that tries to prepare us for every eventuality. For major forecasting and broadcasts, the Met Office will issue colour-coded weather warnings that refer to the severity of forthcoming conditions.

But what are the differences between yellow, amber, and red weather warnings?

Yellow weather warning (Low risk)

Basic message: Be aware of the potential/there is the small chance of severe weather

A yellow weather warning signifies that severe weather is possible over the next few days and it could affect you. This means planning any journeys ahead of time and thinking about potential travel delays or the disruption of your day-to-day activities.

With yellow warnings, the Met Office will constantly monitor the developing weather situation and issue the latest forecast whenever possible. There is also a chance that the weather may change or worsen quickly, leading to further disruption.

Amber weather warning (Medium risk)

Basic message: You should be prepared for/there is likely to be severe weather

When the Met Office issues this warning, it means there is an increased likelihood of bad weather affecting you. This could potentially disrupt your plans and possibly cause travel delays or even road and rail closures, power outages, and the potential risk to life and property.

The prevailing piece of advice for amber weather warnings is be prepared to change your plans in order to protect you, your family, and community from the impacts of severe weather.

Red weather warnings (High risk)

Basic message: You may need to take action, as we are expecting/there will be severe weather

The most serious weather warning the Met Office issues, this means extreme weather is expected and recommends that you should take action straightaway to keep yourself and others safe.

You can expect widespread damage as well as power and travel disruption, while the risk to life is likely. Therefore, it is imperative you avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of emergencies services and local authorities.

How to stay updated

When severe weather is possible or on the way, the Met Office will keep the public up to date in a number of different ways, which includes the radio, TV, on its website, via social media, smartphone apps, RSS, and email alerts.

It also suggests that you pass on any weather warnings to your family and friends for their health and safety too. This can be done by sharing updates on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media networks.