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Colour-coded warnings for extreme weather

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A 'traffic light' system for weather warnings is being introduced by the Met Office.

Improvements to the clarity of alerts will better inform emergency services of any potential disruption associated with extreme weather including heavy rainfall, snow and gale force winds, said the Met today.

Yellow and amber advisory alerts will provide early warnings of disruption at lower levels of probability than is currently the case, flagging the need for vigilance rather than immediate action.

Extreme and rare weather events such as those experienced in 2007 will be distinguished from the types of severe conditions not uncommonly associated with UK winter weather.

The Met's Public Weather Service (PWS) plays a key role in UK emergency planning and response with

  • The provision of severe and extreme weather warnings

  • A range of specialised forecasts

  • A nationwide team of advisors

Advisors work closely with emergency services, local authorities and regional and national government to provide advice in emergency situations and improve longer term contingency planning.

Their expertise covers the potential impact of extreme weather on public safety and vital infrastructure such as transport and power supply. And they advise on the potential spread of toxic pollutants released into the atmosphere following industrial accidents.

Today's improvements to the National Severe Weather Warning Service draw on the experiences of the summer floods and mirror suggestions highlighted in the interim report of the Pitt Inquiry.

Met Office PWS spokesman Graeme Leitch said: "These improvements respond directly to feedback from our partners from the emergency services and local authorities.

"The advisory alert will flag up a developing situation to allow for more preparedness further in advance. And alerts generally will be more targeted and easier to use. The user-friendly traffic light system will provide quick and easy access to vital weather information to emergency responders and the public alike."

Paul Amos of Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: "Last summer detailed weather advice allowed us to deploy resources from unaffected areas to those areas worst hit. The dedication of all involved from fire and rescue and the police to specialist agencies helped prevent what might have been a major disaster."

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