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EXPLAINED: What do Sweden's weather warnings actually mean?

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EXPLAINED: What do Sweden's weather warnings actually mean?
Road conditions were poor in several parts of Sweden on Tuesday. Here's the E20 road north of Gothenburg. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

Sweden's weather agency issues warnings for potentially dangerous weather, on a three-point scale from yellow to red. But what does the weather alert system mean, and what should you do if there's a warning?


Yellow warning

A yellow warning is the least serious on SMHI’s scale, but it could still cause power outages or traffic disruptions, such as blocked roads, delayed or cancelled public transport, or just slow-moving traffic due to, for example, slippery roads.

“Weather that may affect society, present certain risks to the public and certain damage to property and the environment. Disruptions to some public functions are to be expected,” SMHI's definition of a yellow weather warning reads.

The general public is expected to pay attention to the weather forecast and take preventive measures if they live in exposed areas or belong to a group at risk.

It's worth noting that even if there's "only" a yellow warning in place for your region, the weather conditions could vary across local areas. SMHI adds that individuals, certain groups and individual properties that are particularly exposed to risks could still suffer serious damage when there's a yellow warning.


Orange warning

An orange warning means that the weather could have “serious consequences” for society. Power outages are more likely and road conditions are likely to be poor.

The general public is advised to refrain from activities that expose them to weather risks, and take action to reduce the risk of injury to themselves and others. That could, for example, mean working from home instead of taking the car to the office.

“The weather could be dangerous to the public and cause major damage to property and the environment. There’s a great risk of disruptions to various public services, such as public transport,” reads SMHI’s definition of an orange weather warning.

Red warning

A red warning means that the weather could have very serious consequences for society and pose a significant danger to the public, who should not take part in any activities at all that could put them or other people at risk. They should also take preventive measures to help protect “life, environment and property”.

Significant disruptions to public services are to be expected when a red warning is in place, and the weather could cause very serious damage to property and environment.

Public services are also expected to adapt to the weather, take preventive measures, be ready to act if the weather turns even worse, and make sure that information reaches the public.

A red warning is relatively rare.

Where can I find out more?

You can keep up to date with SMHI's current warnings via this link.


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