Weather warning UK: What do the weather warnings in the UK mean and should I drive in a red weather warning?

Stay safe during bad weather by paying attention the Met Office’s weather warnings.

The Met Office will often issue weather warnings to inform and advise the public about approaching extreme weather.

The varying degrees of warnings are categorised by colour and come with their own sets of advice to keep people safe during strong wind, rain, snow, ice, and extreme heat.

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The level is decided by how great the impact the weather may have and how likely those impacts are to happen.

Snow falls in Scotland against a backdrop of Edinburgh Castle as Storm Eunice sweeps across the UK and a rare red weather warning is issued by the Met Office due to the combination of high tides, strong winds, and storm surge. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Here’s all you need to know about weather warnings in the UK and what they mean.

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What do the weather warnings in the UK mean?

There are three levels of weather warning: yellow, amber, and red, with yellow being the mildest and red being the most serious.

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The Met Office's weather warnings are calculated according to both the degree of impact expected and the likelihood of that impact taking place. Photo: The Met Office.

Yellow Warnings

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Yellow warnings can be issued for a range of weather conditions that are expected to cause some low level impacts, such as some disruption to travel in a few places.

Most activities to do with the daily routine can continue without disruption, but there will be some that will be directly impacted.

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The Met Office advises looking at the specific weather warning in advance of travel and other activities that may be affected to assess if you could be affected.

Other yellow warnings are issued when the weather could bring much more severe disruptions, but the certainty of those impacts occurring is much lower.

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Amber Warnings

Amber warnings are assigned when there is an increased likelihood of impacts from severe weather, which could potentially disrupt the public’s plans.

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This means there is the possibility of travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts, and the potential risk to life and property.

The Met Office advises considering changing your plans and taking action to protect yourself and your property ahead of the severe weather to minimise the impact.

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Red Warnings

Red warnings mean that dangerous weather is expected, with a strong likelihood of risk to live, substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies, and possible damage to property and infrastructure.

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The Met Office advises taking action immediately to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the severe weather, such as avoiding travel and securing external areas of your property.

When in doubt, check the detailed advice of the current weather warning and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.

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Remember that advice for your local area may be different from other nearby locations and you should follow the guidance for the area you’re in or the closest region.

Should I drive in a red weather warning?

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You can legally drive in a red weather warning and your insurance is unlikely to be invalid due to an ongoing weather warning.

However, the Met Office states that there is a strong risk to life during a red weather warning and advises people to avoid travel where possible for their own safety.

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How can I access Met Office weather warnings?

Met Office weather warnings are available on its website, social media, or via Met Office app, and will likely be reported on the radio and the TV.

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You can also sign up for email alerts or the RSS feed of the Met Office.