We had a couple of comments from readers over the last week who said they believed it was pointless reporting on Storm Ciara because it was nothing more than a 'bit of wind'. 

We report on storms to raise awareness, to alert readers and as a matter of public record. 

Currently, there is an amber weather warning in place by the Met Office which means there is a threat to life if you travel today. 

So we have put together this piece about why there is a warning in place and why the authorities are advising residents of Basingstoke not to travel. 

Firstly, the weather warning has been put in place by the Met Office - the United Kingdom's national weather service.

Its advice is being repeated by National Rail and Hampshire Constabulary, who are both advising residents to only travel if necessary. 

What are weather warnings? 

Weather warnings are put in place by the United Kingdom's national weather service, the Meteorological Office. They are more commonly known as the Met Office.

The Met Office does not issue weather warnings lightly and is highly regarded as a weather service provider. 

The Met Office has three categories of warnings: yellow, amber and red. As you can imagine, they range in terms of severity. 

This can include heavy rain, snow, wind, fog and ice.

The warnings have different colours depending on how bad - and potentially dangerous - the weather is. These are yellow, amber and red.

What is an amber weather warning? 

An amber warning is the next level down from a red warning, so the situation is not quite as severe.

Amber means it is quite likely that bad weather will affect people, possibly including travel delays, road and rail closures and power cuts.

People should be prepared to change their plans to make sure that everybody stays safe from the impact of the weather.

When is the warning in place for? 

The amber warning in place to Basingstoke and North Hampshire today which started at 8am and is due to finish at 9pm tonight. 

A yellow warning for wind will stay in place until tomorrow. 


Basingstoke Gazette: A fallen tree in Basingstoke. Credit: Kayti GrahamA fallen tree in Basingstoke. Credit: Kayti Graham

What should I expect? 

The Met Office tells residents to be prepared for: 

  • Flying debris could lead to Injuries or danger to life
  • Some damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs expected
  • Longer journey times and cancellations, as road, rail, air and ferry services affected
  • Some roads and bridges closed
  • Power cuts with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage
  • Injuries and danger to life from large waves and beach material being thrown onto sea fronts, coastal roads and properties

Why does this mean I can't travel? 

As the Met Office expects flying debris and fallen trees, there is an increased risk to pedestrians and drivers than ordinary. 

The advice to only travel if necessary has been repeated by the police and National Rail so should be taken seriously.

While the U.K. is ordinarily lucky in terms of its severe weather events, storms can be deadly. In 2018, 10 people died during storms in the January and February period. 

If you are going to travel - despite the warnings - the Met Office offers this advice:

Even moderate rain can reduce your ability to see and be seen. A good rule of thumb is ‘if it’s time for your wipers, it’s time to slow down’.

If heavy downpours are expected, avoid starting your journey until it clears.

If you can, choose main roads, where you are less likely to be exposed to fallen branches and debris and flooding.

Use dipped headlights if visibility is seriously reduced.

Gusts of wind can unsettle vehicles – grip your steering wheel firmly with both hands. This is particularly important when planning to overtake.

Keep an eye out for gaps between trees, buildings or bridges over a river or railway – these are some of the places you are more likely to be exposed to side winds. Ensure that you maintain enough room either side of your vehicle so you can account for it being blown sideways.

Roads will be more slippery than usual in wet weather – be sure to give yourself more time to react when approaching a hazard. Increase your following gap to at least four seconds from the moving traffic in front.

Keep your eyes peeled on the road at all times as spray from other vehicles can suddenly reduce your visibility. Remember it affects others too, so anticipate their actions and be prepared.

What to do when the road is flooded

If the road is flooded, turn around and find another route. The number one cause of death during flooding is driving through flood water, so the safest advice is turn around, don’t drown.

Although the water may seem shallow, just 12 inches (30cm) of moving water can float your car, potentially taking it to deeper water from which you may need rescuing.

Flood water also contains hidden hazards which can damage your car, and just an egg-cupful of water sucked into your car’s engine will lead to severe damage.

Never drive through flood water. Turn around.

Keep an eye out for cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians

Remember to give vulnerable road users including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians more room than usual. They are more likely to be blown around by side winds – always keep a safe distance.

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