What is a danger to life weather warning in the UK, when does the Met Office issue them and what do they mean? – The Sun

BRITISH weather is renown for its unpredictability with glorious sunshine turning into a shivering downpour in just a few hours.

And despite the UK not being known for deadly earthquakes, volcanoes or raging tornadoes, we still get our fair share of Mother Nature’s fury.

What is a danger to life weather warning?

The Met Office issues a series of warning over bad weather, known as The Met Office National Severe Weather Warning Service (NSWWS).

These range from very low to high, and as well as general warnings there are also specific warnings for rain, thunderstorms, wind, snow, lightning, ice and fog.

In the general weather category as well as specific groups, two of the most severe warnings carry a danger to life.

These are medium and high warnings, and in the former the Met Office says these may cause “injuries with danger to life”.

In the highest category, it simply states there is a “danger to life”.

When broken down by weather type, for rain and thunderstorms danger to life may occur from flooding.

For wind, it warns of “widespread danger to life from flying debris”, and lightning carries the risk of “injuries with danger to life due to frequent lightning strikes”.

Credit: PA:Press Association

The alerts range from very low, to low, medium and high

When are they issued?

The Met Office operates 24/7 365 days a year, so a warning can be issued at any time.

The warnings are designed to “let people, businesses, emergency responders and governments know what weather is in store and what the impacts of that weather may be”.

In order for all concerned parties to be prepared, weather warnings are issued up to seven days in advance to allow time for all necessary precautions to be made.

What do they mean?

The weather warnings are also colour coded, with yellow, amber and red alerts.

The Met Office says: “These impacts can include damage to property, travel delays and cancellations, loss of water supplies, power cuts and, in the most severe cases, bring a danger to life.”

A matric is used for people to assess how likely a weather event is, and how serious it is.

The Met Office breaks down the colour codes as follows:

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.

NSWWS definitions of alerts

Very LowOn the whole, day to day activities not affected but a few places may see small scale impacts occur.
A few transport routes affected.

Some short lived disruption to day to day routines in affected areas.
Incidents dealt with under "business as usual" response by emergency services.
Some transport routes and travel services affected. Some journeys require longer travel times.

Injuries with danger to life.
Disruption to day-to-day routines and activities.
Short-term strain on emergency responder organisations.
Transport routes and travel services affected.
Longer journey times expected.
Some vehicles and passengers stranded.
Disruption to some utilities and services.
Damage to buildings and property.

Danger to life.
Prolonged disruption to day to day routines and activities.
Prolonged strain on emergency responder organisations.
Transport routes and travel services affected for a prolonged period. Long travel delays. Vehicles and passengers stranded for long periods.
Disruption to utilities and services for a prolonged period.
Extensive damage to buildings and property.

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.



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 and 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.

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