The Met Office have just issued a plethora of weather warnings for the coming weekend for snow (fig 1). I’m not going to get in the thinking of how 5 to 10 cm of snow equates to an amber warning for severe weather, and ask how other countries cope with snow and we can’t, because it’s simply not worth it.
I’ve just done the weekly shopping with my wife at our local Tesco’s in Cullompton this morning, and it’s already quite obvious that panic buying in preparation for the snow that’s forecast for this weekend has begun. It got me to thinking about just how effective weather warnings issued by the Met Office, especially for snow, are. Do they actually save the lives of people who listen to them? Or do they just cause panic buying at every supermarket in the country?
Hearing the warning
It’s no doubt that they are very effective, especially in how they get their message across by means of a mix of social media, smart phone apps and 24 hour rolling television news. This usually has little effect if the warning concerns either rain or wind, but as soon as amber or red warnings for snow is issued, the whole nation seems to go into melt down mode, and panic buying starts in earnest, with most people hoping that they’ll end up being snowed in for days, and due to health and safety concerns of course, won’t be able to venture out until a thaw has set in.
Heeding the warning
So at least panic buying does suggest that people are hearing them, but does this mean that they are being heeded for safety on the roads? Will people drive more carefully or not attempt to drive at all? I don’t know if any study into the effectiveness of weather warnings has ever been undertaken, but I would be fascinated to read the conclusions of it, if ever there was.