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Met Office introducing new weather warning system

Friday, 22 December 2017

The weather warning system used to alert people to the potential for adverse conditions is being updated with effect from Wednesday 3 January 2018.

The Isle of Man Meteorological Office is revising the existing colour-coded warnings, which were introduced more than 10 years ago.

The changes reflect advances in technology that enable met officers to make more accurate forecasts, in particular the impact of severe weather events such as storms, flooding and snow.

The intention is to bring the Island into line with current best practice and provide greater consistency with the weather warning system used by the UK Met Office. This will reduce the potential for any confusion between the colour-coded warnings used in the Isle of Man and those issued in the UK and published online or broadcast on television and radio.

The Island’s weather warning system provides advance guidance about the severity of forecast conditions and the likelihood of issues such as disruption to outdoor events, travel delays or structural damage.

In the Isle of Man, the warning levels are vital to the decision-making, operational planning and deployment of resources by the emergency services and Government Departments.

The new warning levels that will be in place from 3 January 2018 are: 

  • Weather Advisory: ‘Weather Watch’. Normally issued a few days in advance, usually anticipating an ‘Amber’ or ‘Red’ level event. 
  • Weather Alert: YELLOW – ‘Be Aware’. Risk of bad weather affecting outdoor activities and work plans, possible travel delays, some minor damage and localised or temporary disruption. 
  • Weather Warning: AMBER – ‘Be Prepared’. Higher risk of severe weather affecting work, schools and travel, causing some disruption and significant damage in places, interruption of power and a risk of injury. 
  • Severe Weather Warning: RED – ‘Take Action’. Extreme conditions expected with high impacts, widespread significant damage, travel and power disruption, interruption to communication and risk to life is likely. 

People in the Island will notice more ‘Yellow – Be Aware’ warnings being issued than under the previous system. This will also result in fewer Amber warnings, while Red warnings will become even rarer.

It is expected that only Amber or Red weather warnings will trigger a multi-agency meeting and any contingency planning or subsequent action.

Senior Met Officer Adrian Cowin said:

‘The current system has served the Isle of Man well for more than a decade. However, the changes we are introducing will enable the team of professionals at the Met Office in Ronaldsway to further enhance our service to the local community.’

He added:

‘The new system has been welcomed by our partner agencies that spearhead the response to severe weather events, as it will provide greater clarity for their decisions about how best to serve and protect the Island.’

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