Opinion: There’s another yellow weather warning but it probably won’t amount to much

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The Met Office has issued a yellow warning of a thunderstorm across Bedford Borough next week.

In fact they’ve issued the warning for pretty much the whole of England, I guess it’s nice to be included.

Yellow weather warning 25 to 26 June 2019 close up
We’re all doomed!

Last week a similar weather warning was issued. Of course our ‘local’ clickbait media jumped right on it writing headlines that promised to tell you exactly where the lightning would strike or how much rainfall we’d definitely get.

They hoped you’d get sucked in by their dramatics.

But as you’d expect the article didn’t deliver and when the day of the warning arrived nothing much happened at all.

There was rain, but none of the spectacular lightning displays the over-the-top editorial promised us.

Of course that’s not the Met Office’s fault, they didn’t say it would definitely happen just that it might.

But some news desks don’t let truth get in the way of a good story adding certainty where none exists.

So what’s going on with the weather warning for 23-24 June? Here are the facts:

  • From Sunday, at around 3pm there is a maximum of 60% chance of rain
  • This may also be accompanied with thunder and lightning
Yellow weather warning 25 to 26 June 2019
Next week’s weather warning from 23-24 June covers quite a large area.

Of course the Met Office use detailed records and computer models to forecast weather patterns. Yet even with years of practice and increasingly better technology they can’t see into the future.

So, they err on the side of caution.

It’s better to issue a yellow weather warning and have nothing happen than say nothing and face the same embarrassment as Michael Fish back in 1987.

If you weren’t around at the time, he told viewers not to worry about reports of a hurricane, as there wasn’t one on the way.

Later that night, gusts of up to 135mph battered much of England and France in what was the worst storm in the region since records began.

Aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987
Aftermath of the Great Storm of 1987. Credit: David Wright [CC BY-SA 2.0]
So should we be worried about these constant weather warnings? No, of course not, but we should take note.

The Met Office warnings serve a valuable purpose in both keeping people aware of their own existence and what could be on the horizon.

But a yellow warning is the lowest level of concern. It’s like your nan suggesting you take a brolly, just in case. You might begrudge carrying it but you’ll be grateful if you need it.

And they’re usually issued a few days before the event and updated regularly or even removed.

What you shouldn’t do though is pander to the fake news clickbait.

Editors know how much the Brits love talking about the weather, it’s traditionally our favourite ‘B’ word, even if another seems to get more attention these days.

Editors know that if they give you a little snippet of info about the possible weather to come, you’ll most likely dive in. The problem is they never really give you what you thought you were going to get.

You could argue I’m doing the same by writing this opinion piece but really all I’m doing is letting you know that I share your frustrations.

We just want to know if it’s warm enough yet to stop wearing a coat, after all it’s June for goodness sake. Where is our summer?


What the met office warnings mean

Yellow: Many are issued when it is likely that the weather will cause some low level impacts, including some disruption to travel in a few places. Many people may be able to continue with their daily routine, but there will be some that will be directly impacted and so it is important to assess if you could be affected. Other yellow warnings are issued when the weather could bring much more severe impacts to the majority of people but the certainty of those impacts occurring is much lower. It is important to read the content of yellow warnings to determine which weather situation is being covered by the yellow warning.

Amber: There is an increased likelihood of impacts from severe weather, which could potentially disrupt your plans. This means there is the possibility of travel delays, road and rail closures, power cuts and the potential risk to life and property. You should think about changing your plans and taking action to protect yourself and your property. You may want to consider the impact of the weather on your family and your community and whether there is anything you need to do ahead of the severe weather to minimise the impact.

Red: Dangerous weather is expected and, if you haven’t already done so, you should take action now to keep yourself and others safe from the impact of the severe weather. It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure. You should avoid travelling, where possible, and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.


 

Paying attention to the weather, in particular how much it has changed, is also important if we’re to understand our own impact on the environment.

If global heating continues then Bedfordians are going to get wetter summers, these yellow weather warnings may well increase, until they’re so normal we don’t need them anymore.

So will the Bedford Independent still report on weather warnings? Yes, of course, when appropriate, but as with all our articles it’ll be non-sensationalised fact.

We won’t play on your fears or even ask you to click through reams of pages and teasing paragraphs to get what you need.

More often that not the headline will tell you what you want to know, and that’s why you can trust that we’re the place to find out what you want to know.

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