The UK sits in the path of predominately westerly winds where low pressure weather systems (and associated clouds and rain) frequently move eastwards or north-eastwards across the North Atlantic and then across the UK. This brings unsettled and windy weather, particularly in winter.
Summers in the UK are usually cooler than those on the European continent whereas our winters are often much milder. However, experts anticipate that climate change will alter the UK’s weather, leading to changes in patterns of rainfall and temperature. This has the potential to cause more frequent extreme weather events.
The Met Office system
The Met Office uses a colour-coded system to show the likelihood and effects of expected severe weather.
The sections linked in the menu provide information about different weather conditions but there are some simple actions you can take to make sure you are prepared, whatever the weather:
Check the weather forecast regularly. The MET Office provides forecasts for locations around the country.
Listen to the radio.
The Environment Agency work hard to predict, monitor and provide early warning on severe weather.
Government public information campaigns such as ‘get ready for winter’ give tailored advice, particularly for vulnerable people.
UK severe weather warnings
MET Office community resilience
MET Office Adverse Weather guidance
Driving in adverse weather conditions
Cold and snow
Winter weather can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds. Cold and snow create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning/utility failure and heart attacks from overexertion.
Cold weather and snow can last for several days or even weeks, causing travel disruption, damage to power lines and water supplies, school closures, and risking the health of the elderly and vulnerable.
How to prepare
Monitor weather reports and warnings. Cold Weather Alerts in England provide a service between 1 November and 31 March each year, issuing alerts when the average temperature is forecast to fall below a certain level and/or for forecasted heavy snow or widespread ice.
'Winterize' your home, if you prepare well, heating your home won’t cost as much;
Allow taps to drip a little to prevent pipes from freezing
Cover windows with plastic to keep the cold air out
To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups
Prepare an Emergency Grab Bag in case you need to stay at home for several days without power.
Ensure your car is winter ready. Keep a Car Grab Bag in your boot with emergency supplies, it's also good to check:
Tyre treads and pressures
Coolant and screen wash levels
Battery condition and wiper blades
Try to keep fuel topped up
Check on neighbours and relatives
Avoid travelling if you can. If unavoidable, check your route before you leave and stay on main routes if you can as these are more likely to have been gritted. Please be aware of untreated stretches.
Heatwave and drought
Most of us welcome hot weather, but when it’s too hot for too long there are health risks. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. If a heatwave occurs, make sure the hot weather doesn’t harm you or anyone you know.
A heatwave is when the daily maximum temperature exceeds 28°C and the minimum temperature is higher than 15°C for two weeks or the daily maximum temperature exceeds 32°C for five consecutive days. There is a drought when there are periodic water interruptions for up to ten months.
The very young, the elderly and the seriously ill are the groups who are particularly at risk of health problems when the weather is very hot. In particular, very hot weather can make heart and breathing problems worse.
Top tips for keeping cool
Prepare cool rooms in your house and draw curtains to keep the inside of your home cool
If there is no security risk, open windows at night
Heat can increase air pollution, ensure you have adequate supplies of inhalers or other medication you may need
Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol if dehydration is a risk
Keep inside during the hottest part of the day - 11am to 3pm is when the sun is highest
Avoid sunburn - wear loose, lightweight clothing and use sun cream with a high sun protection factor on exposed skin
Keep an eye on the weather forecast
If travelling take plenty of drinks, food and any medication you may need
Check yourself, family members and neighbours for signs of heat related illness such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Never leave people or pets in a closed car
Avoid strenuous activities
For further advice and guidance visit the Heatwave and Summer Health pages of the NHS website, there is also information from the NHS about Heat exhaustion and Heat stroke.
‘Heat-Health Watch’ in England provides an alerting service between 1 June and 15 September each year, issuing tailored advice when temperatures are expected to rise significantly.
Storms and gales
Strong winds or gales are the most common cause of damage and disruption in the UK. The average cost of damage each year is at least £300 million.
The MET Office provides guidance on what to do before, during and after a storm to ensure your family and property are kept safe.
Before a storm
Make sure you stay up to date with severe weather warnings and prepare by:
Secure loose objects that could be blown away
Lock doors and windows, especially large doors such as those on garages
Park vehicles in a garage if available, otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences.
During a storm you should
Stay indoors and do not go outside to repair damage
Try not to walk or shelter close to buildings and trees
Do not drive unless absolutely necessary. If you have to drive, slow down and be aware of side winds and exposed routes.
After the storm
Be careful not to touch any electrical/telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging
Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened
Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs.
Space weather is a collective term used to describe a series of phenomena originating from the Sun. There are three main types of space weather:
1,Solar flares which reach Earth within a few hours and can cause radio blackouts
2.Solar energetic particles which travel somewhat slower and cause solar radiation storms, potentially harming astronauts if not forewarned.
3.Coronal mass ejections
The sun is in constant flux and the impact of this solar activity is more apparent as people become more reliant on technology. Space weather can affect our technology and systems such as satellites, GPS, power grids and radio communications.
Make sure that you and your business are not completely reliant on technology. Consider how you would manage without working mobile telephone and computer systems.
Just like other weather events, the MET Office provides space weather forecasts and information about its effects.
If you or a member of your family would be particularly vulnerable during a power cut you can register as a priority customer with Western Power.
It may also be useful to make sure you have a Grab Bag in case of the event of a widespread power cut due to space weather