Here in the First Alert Weather Center, we've been designating Weather Alert days for aboutone year. Each day in our 3-day planning forecast gets a color coding: either Green, Yellow,or Red. Today, for instance, is a Yellow Alert Day. Tomorrow we are back to Green, but on Sunday, we have issued a Red Alert. As you probably know, a"Green" day means that we don't have any significant weather issues in the DC Metro area. Butthe criteria for Yellow and Red, and the differencesbetween them, might not be aseasy to see!
A Yellow Alert is in effect whenever we believe the weather will cause an inconvenience for your daily life. For instance, today's commute was more challenging than usual because of the rain. In the summer, we might issue a Yellow Alert if thunderstorms could affect your ability to go to the pool, have a cookout, etc. In thewinter, a Yellow Alert could also mean the forecast calls for a light snowfall.
A Red Alert is serious business. This means that the weather conditions could be downright dangerous for travel or outdoor activity. Sunday's Red Alert was issued because our forecast calls for a wintry mix of snow and ice. This could cause dangerous road conditions, and if ice accumulates on tree branches and power lines, we could have dangerous power outages as well. In the summer, a Red Alert is usually issued when widespread severe weather is in the forecast. A Tornado Watch in the area will almost always warrant the issuance of a Red Alert. June 13th, 2013 is a great example of a Red Alert Day. You might remember that we had numerous tornado warnings during the afternoon and early evening on that day. 5 tornadoes were ultimately confirmed here in the DMV.
I also want to point out that these designations are completely separate from any forecast products that are issued by the National Weather Service or by the Storm Prediction Center. We issue Weather Alerts here at WUSA9 because you can use them to help plan your schedule, and it can also give you a valuable heads-up if our forecast is calling for dangerous weather conditions.