How rare is a Met Office red weather warning – and what does it mean?
The Met Office today issued a red weather warning for wind in Scotland.
The last time a red wind warning was activated in the UK was for South West England in March 2018.
Today’s alert is the 11th red warning issued by the Met Office since its three-tier system came into use in 2011.
It also includes yellow warnings for ‘be aware’ and amber for ‘be prepared’.
The Met Office definition of a red alert is to ‘take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the weather. Widespread damage, travel and power disruption and risk to life is likely. You must avoid dangerous areas and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities’.
The Met Office has issued a rare red weather warning as Britons brace for Storm Arwen which will lash the UK today – with wind speeds predicted to reach up to 100mph.
Red alerts – warning of a ‘danger to life’ – have been issued across the northeast of England and Scotland for the first time in three years.
As temperatures today plunged well below average to -4.4C in the Lake District, the Met Office warned commuters of ‘flying debris’ expected to cause chaos on roads, bridges and railway lines.
Forecasters also warn of damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down, alongside delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights.
Power cuts will also affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage, with ‘large waves and beach material thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and homes’.
The red warning, which covers areas including Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, will be in place from 3pm today until 2am tomorrow morning.
The warning, which is the maximum the Met Office issues, means the impact is likely to be high and it is very likely.
Temperatures in the UK at this time of year usually average a daily high of 10C and a low of 4C, but are set to plummet, with lows up -4C in Scotland on Saturday night.
Stephen Dixon, a Met Office spokesman, said Storm Arwen is moving in from the North Sea and will begin to travel south before easing on Sunday.
The Met Office names storms on the back of their potential impact, with Storm Arwen declared as the result of the amber wind warning.
Heavy snow and high winds affecting parts of Scotland today as the Met Office issues a rare red weather warning
Red alerts – warning of a ‘danger to life’ – have been issued across Scotland (pictured today)
A car is seen driving through the snow in Ballater in Aberdeenshire today as Britons brace for Storm Arwen
Heavy snow and high winds can be seen as a snow plough clears the A93 at Glenshee, Scotland
The red warning, which covers areas including Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, will be in place from 3pm today until 2am tomorrow morning
Red, amber and yellow wind and snow warnings have been released for Scotland, western England and Northern Ireland on Friday, before extending to almost the entire of the UK on Saturday
Migrants planning to cross the Channel in small boats this weekend face ‘terrifying’ conditions
Migrants planning to cross the Channel in small boats this weekend face ‘terrifying’ conditions that no commercial fishermen would risk, according to local specialists.
The dinghies used by the people traffickers would be tossed around by 5m swells with freezing temperatures and cold sea spray putting the men, women and children at risk of hypothermia.
It comes after an ‘overloaded’ boat capsized in rough seas amid rain and cold weather and was found by fishermen, with three coastguard vessels and a helicopter rushed to the scene.
Craig Collins, of Channel Angling in Dover, Kent, told the PA news agency: ‘It’s brutal out there, at the moment we’re getting north-westerlies which will just smash the boats.
‘They are coming straight into them, it would be difficult to even get off the beaches and they’ll be facing 16-foot swells, it’s horrendous out there.
‘It would be really hard out there. I wouldn’t want to be out there and no commercial fisherman would go out in that. It’s tragic they are trying to do it.
‘It’s not just the cold, it’s the spray from the water, they will be hypothermic in 20 minutes out there.’
Another fisherman, Manny, said: ‘It’s terrifying, you would think you are going to die. I used to be a commercial fisherman in a 32ft boat and we wouldn’t go out in the conditions that they do and these people haven’t got anything, they’re just in small dinghies.’
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has urged people to check on elderly relatives or neighbours as the country braces for Storm Arwen to sweep in.
The Met Office has previously issued an amber weather warning – also meaning lives are in danger – for northeast Scotland and England today as well as yellow weather warnings for almost the whole of the UK on Saturday. Forecasters warn snow is possible, ‘almost anywhere away from the far-south’.
The amber warning will run from 3pm on Friday to 9am on Saturday, with the strongest winds expected in coastal locations.
Experts have expressed fears that migrants attempting to cross the Channel face ‘terrifying’ conditions that no commercial fishermen would risk – after 27 people lost their lives earlier this week, and a further 50 attempted the treacherous crossing again yesterday.
Mr Dixon added: ‘There may also be some snow in the lower ground region of northern England, though this is likely to be short-lived and fall in the form of sleet or wintry rain.
‘It comes on the back of a fall in temperature, with parts of rural Scotland and England to drop below freezing during the night.’
The UKHSA has issued a cold weather alert, and Agostinho Sousa, a consultant in Public Health Medicine at UKHSA, said: ‘Cold weather can have a serious impact on health, particularly for older people and those with heart and lung problems, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.
‘It’s really important to keep checking on older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or those who have serious illness.
‘Make a call, or a socially distanced doorstep visit if they live close by, to remind them to heat their home to at least 18C (64.4F) and to keep up to date with the forecast. It’s also helpful to check they have enough food and drinks and any medicines they need.’
The Met Office said temperatures would plummet to below average over the weekend.
Will Lang, head of civil contingencies at the Met Office, said: ‘The UK will see temperatures drop to below average in the coming days, as cold air is drawn in from the north. This is coupled with the strong winds associated with Storm Arwen, which means it will feel especially cold in the wind.
‘Areas in the north will see temperatures below freezing overnight, with daytime maximum temperatures only getting into the low single figures.
When was the last red weather warning?
The 11 red warnings issued by the Met Office since the system began seven years ago are as follows:
- December 8, 2011: Wind in central and southern Scotland
- January 3, 2012: Wind in central Scotland
- July 7, 2012: Rain in Devon and Cornwall
- January 18, 2013: Snow in South Wales
- February 12, 2014: Wind in Wales and northern England
- December 5, 2015: Rain in Cumbria and the Borders (Storm Desmond)
- December 26, 2016: Rain in Lancashire and Yorkshire
- January 29, 2016: Wind in Orkney and Shetland
- February 28, 2018: Snow in central Scotland
- March 1, 2018: Wind and snow in South West England
- November 26, 2021: Wind in Northeast England and Scotland (Storm Arwen)
‘It’s important to note that strong wind speeds, in excess of 65mph in exposed locations, will exacerbate the cold temperatures we’ll be seeing over the weekend.’
Within the amber area and near the coasts large waves could see material thrown on to coastal roads, sea fronts and buildings, the Met Office has warned.
The RAC has advised drivers to prepare for strong gusts by slowing down and being ‘very careful’ when passing high-sided vehicles or cyclists.
Spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘In extreme windy conditions, bridges may also be closed and trees may fall so it’s important to allow extra time for journeys.
‘With forecasters predicting strong winds together with colder conditions, drivers should take this opportunity to prepare their vehicles for winter by checking oil and coolant levels, ensuring they have enough good quality screen wash that protects down to well below minus 10C, as well as having properly inflated tyres with good tread.’
The Met Office names storms on the back of their potential impact, with Storm Arwen declared as the result of the amber wind warning.
Met Office Principal Meteorologist Dan Suri said: ‘Storm Arwen is associated with a deep low pressure system that will impact the northeast in particular from Friday, but will also bring wider impacts to the UK with high winds, rain and some snow probable over the high ground.
‘Storm Arwen’s impacts are mainly associated with high winds as the storm sinks southwards and will widely bring gusts of up to 65mph in coastal areas, although slightly stronger in the northeast, with in excess of 75mph possible in exposed locations.’
A Met Office spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We could see blizzard conditions on the highlands. Snow will start from today and showers could fall as snow today through to Thursday. On Friday there will be a lot of rain in northeast Scotland and over the highlands that could fall as snow.
‘As the temperature drops off through Friday night there’s a chance we could see snow falling over higher ground in Wales, the Pennines and a dash across East Anglia.’
He added: ‘Showers could fall as snow over higher ground in Scotland. It’ll be windy in north and western Scotland. That cold front sticks through the day and brings cold to rest of UK with widespread frost behind the cold front.’
Meanwhile, Labrokes is predicting next month will be the coldest December on record with 2/1 bets.
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes said: ‘A White Christmas will come at a freezing cold cost if the latest odds are anything to go by, with next month looking increasingly likely to break records on the weather front for all the wrong reasons.’
The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning – meaning lives are in danger – for northeast Scotland and England as well as yellow weather warnings for Friday and Saturday. Forecasters warn snow is possible, ‘almost anywhere away from the far-south’. Pictured, waves at Roker Lighthouse in Sunderland today
The Met Office names storms on the back of their potential impact, with Storm Arwen declared as the result of the amber wind warning
Temperatures could plummet to as low as -4C in the Scottish Highlands overnight on Saturday into Sunday
Temperatures in the UK at this time of year usually average a daily high of 10C and a low of 4C, but are set to plummet, with lows up -4C in Scotland on Saturday night. Pictured, Met Office weather maps
The Met Office has warned the extreme wind could close bridges and roads as well as see tiles blown off buildings over the weekend. Pictured, a map of the wind direction
Average temperatures for this time of year – and how they’ve changed over the years
Source: Sheffield Weather
The strong winds are set to affect the majority of the UK, with only a small part of south-east England avoiding a yellow weather warning.
He added: ‘The cold front is just lingering over the south at this point. There will be showers in northern Scotland and a chance of snow across high ground but it probably will not be settling.
‘It is mostly dry elsewhere. In the evening the rain moves into the northwest. There could be some snow on the edge of that in the cold air but it’ll quickly turn to rain as it moves to Scotland and warmer air comes across.’
He said there will be a change on Friday, and weather warnings were put out at 9.51am Tuesday for ‘strong winds’. ‘A low pressure area brings strong winds and heavy rains to northern parts of the UK and spreads to a wider area of the UK through Saturday.’
‘Along with the wind we’ve got heavier rain in north England and south Scotland. Later on Friday that could start to fall as snow over the highlands, which is not unusual for the end of November.
‘Later in the evening wet and windy weather spreads south. There might be the odd snow flurry in the south but it’s unlikely to settle. It’s wet and increasingly windy across large parts of the UK. Peak gust speed is 80mph and it is windy after a mild November. There are still leaves on trees so it could cause disruption’.
A Met office forecaster said Friday would be ‘cold and unsettled with showers and occasional longer spells of rain’ as well as ‘often windy, with potential for severe gales in the west on Friday and Saturday.’
The BBC’s monthly forecast for November says ‘a surge of colder Icelandic air will spill across the UK over the final 10 days of November’ and this could linger into the beginning of December.
‘A secondary push of colder Icelandic air’ is expected late next week, which will further drop temperatures’ the forecast states, adding that ‘sharp frosts may occur during some evenings late in the week’.
As temperatures drop, ‘a few spells of rain showers and even some patchy snow showers’ may hit the UK, mainly in Scotland, with winds also experiencing an uptick as the week progresses.
November has seen warmer than normal temperatures so far, particularly in parts of eastern Scotland, which are expected to continue until the end of the weekend.
The calm conditions have been cited as one of the reasons why so many migrants are successfully crossing the English Channel from northern France.
Ruairidh Roberts, UK Country Manager at Waze, said: ‘As parts of the UK brace themselves for the effects of the arctic plunge and Storm Arwen, we urge motorists making essential journeys to be extra diligent.’
‘At Waze, we are expecting delays around the country as the turbulent weather causes chaos on British roads. As a result, we’ve sent out push notifications to our app users, encouraging them to report hazards caused by the bad weather, helping to keep fellow drivers safe and aware of what may be ahead of them on journeys this weekend.’
‘To report weather-related issues in Waze, users should tap the report button > hazard > weather, and select the option relevant to the event. Drivers can also use voice commands by saying ‘Ok Waze’ and following the options to report weather disruption.’