Help (General support on the use of the METEOALARM website)

  1. European level
  2. Country level
  3. Country region information
  4. Source of information
  5. Proxy servers
1. The European level “The websites homepage” (1st layer)

Here you will find the European geographical map. This colourful map will give you a first and very quick impression on actual and/or expected awareness situation across Europe. Colour assignment will be as coherent and consistent as possible, crossing national borders within the European METEOALARM domain. The colour assignment is related to the impact and damage expected.

1.1 Website (static) information in your language
If you want to change to another language you can select it by mouse clicking the “change language” toolbar in the right upper position.

1.2 The meaning of the colours
The exact explanation on awareness colours you will find by clicking on the colour legend (down left part) of this page.

A summary of colour explanation:

Missing, insufficient, outdated or suspicious data.

No severe weather expected, however a minor event may cause local impact.

The weather is potentially dangerous. The weather phenomena that have been forecast are not unusual, but be attentive if you intend to practice activities exposed to meteorological risks. Keep informed about the expected meteorological conditions and do not take any avoidable risk.

The weather is dangerous. Unusual meteorological phenomena have been forecast. Damage and casualties are likely to happen. Be very vigilant and keep regularly informed about the detailed expected meteorological conditions. Be aware of the risks that might be unavoidable. Follow any advice given by your authorities.

The weather is very dangerous. Exceptionally intense meteorological phenomena have been forecast. Major damage and accidents are likely, in many cases with threat to life and limb, over a wide area. Keep frequently informed about detailed expected meteorological conditions and risks. Follow orders and any advice given by your authorities under all circumstances, be prepared for extraordinary measures.

1.3 The meaning of symbols (weather parameters)The meaning of symbols (weather parameters)
Easily understandable symbols do define the weather parameter(s) expected to cause danger. These symbols/parameters are explained in the lower part of the homepage. The right part of the homepage shows a table with all participating countries, their actual awareness situation and the related weather parameters (symbol colour). If a weather parameter is not defined for a warning, a square with a diagonal slash is shown.

1.3.1 Easily understandable symbols do define the weather parameter(s) expected to cause danger. These symbols/parameters are explained in the lower part of the homepage. The right part of the homepage shows a table with all participating countries, their actual awareness situation and the related weather parameters (symbol colour). If a weather parameter is not defined for a warning, a square with a diagonal slash is shown.

1.3.2 Wind
Gales and high winds are a definite risk in heavily populated areas, towns and cities, and forests. Gales of Beaufort force 10 or more uproot trees, often felling large areas of forest, and damage to buildings is inevitable. Airborne objects such as roof tiles, fencing, corrugated sheeting and branches broken from trees are a threat to those outside. Gusts of wind, which in severe gales or thunderstorms can reach more than 100 km per hour, are especially treacherous, in particular for road traffic, such as cars with trailers, caravans and lorries, and of course for cyclists and motorcyclists who quickly become a plaything of the wind. Indeed, roads and railways can be blocked, and public transport and air traffic severely disrupted.

1.3.3. Rain and/or floods
Flooded areas, boats rowed along streets and people despairingly trying to salvage whatever they can, these are the images we so regularly see on the television, but by then of course it is too late. The site gives advance warnings on when and where in Europe so much rain is expected that flooding will result, and also on how great is the risk of torrential downpours.
If Meteoalarm shows droplets in an area coloured red then it’s better to avoid travel in that part of Europe, as the situation may be life threatening.

Major floods are usually the result of persistent intensive rainfall. Melt water from snowfields can also raise river levels considerably. If under such circumstances active rain cells repeatedly pass over the catchment areas of rising rivers they will soon burst their banks. This happens especially in the winter when there is little evaporation, the vegetation can hardly retain any water, and the ground is saturated. All the water, including that from higher ground, cascades into streams and rivers unable to cope with it.

Danger from river flooding
But rivers can also burst their banks even in fine, dry weather. Most of the time this is caused by extensive rainfall at upstream locations along the river and/or because of melting snow. Avoid unpleasant surprises if you’re planning a journey through parts of Europe where rivers are found.

1.3.4. Thunderstorms
Lightning in open terrain is almost always a threat to life. It’s not just the lightning, because thunderstorms are often accompanied by cloudbursts and torrential rainfall, and occasionally by hailstones as large as tennis balls, and dangerous gusts of wind.
These all easily cause damage, not just from felled trees or severed branches, but also through lightning strikes themselves, which may lead to complete districts experiencing a blackout. The torrential rains may cause streams and rivers suddenly to burst their banks. In such surges of churning water, burbling brooks change into wide fast flowing rivers, turning picturesque campsites into a living hell. Landslides and avalanches of mud can cause enormous damage, and lead to casualties every year.
Mountains are particularly notorious for sudden complete changes of weather with warmth and sunshine followed by cold and snowfall, even in the middle of summer. Under such conditions it’s not unusual for temperatures to drop 20 degrees in a very short time.
The most severe thunderstorms generally occur in the summer when there is humid air and exceptional warmth. In particular, when cooler air approaches, enormous thunderclouds can develop with tops reaching 15 km or more, able to contain vast quantities of water. Thunderstorms in the mountains can certainly be treacherous, since the growth of thunderclouds may be hidden from hill walkers and mountaineers by the higher summits, resulting in them not being aware of what is taking place close by.

Lightning tips
* Look for shelter, certainly when the thunderstorm is nearby.
* Sound travels about a kilometer in 3 seconds. If thunder is heard within 10 seconds of the lightning stroke then it is dangerously close
* When thunder is in the air, close all windows because of the risk of dangerous gusts of wind and driving rain.
* If there is a lightning strike close by the current will follow a path along pipes or wiring. This may cause damage to electronic equipment connected to cable networks such as televisions, network telephone systems and computers.
* It is advisable during thunderstorms to disconnect aerials, cables, telephone lines and the electricity, and not to take a bath or shower.
* The safest place is in a closed car.

1.3.5. Snow and ice
When it begins to thaw after a period of frost it often first warms up higher in the atmosphere. It then begins to rain while the surface remains frozen. That leads to freezing rain and black ice, which are very treacherous forms of slipperiness.
Just a small amount of rain can make surfaces as smooth as a mirror especially if accompanied by high winds. Snowdrifts several meters high can result from blizzard conditions such that whole areas are cut off and remain inaccessible for days on end. It’s the same old story every winter, unsuspecting travellers getting stuck in the snow. In your isolation, the situation generally gets more and more hopeless, as your car gets buried deeper and deeper in the in just a few minutes. Icing can arise from the freezing and refreezing of wet road surfaces, but road traffic is generally more inconvenienced by snowfall, snowdrifts and it can cool down inside to below freezing point!

The site warns of extreme winter weather conditions. It gives you the opportunity to postpone your journey, or to take along blankets and provisions, and to be on the lookout for potential deterioration in the weather. Consulting the website is a “must do” for anyone going to or from winter sports areas.
* If you are caught in the open by a thunderstorm and can’t find a place to shelter then it is best to make yourself as small as possible by crouching on your haunches. Keep the feet together, to prevent the current passing through your body.
* Never shelter under a solitary tree, along the edge of a wood, or next to metal fencing.

1.3.6. Mist and fog
Poor visibility poses great risks for road traffic. Motorists cannot be warned enough to reduce speed and keep their distance in foggy weather. If a bank of fog suddenly looms up the visibility can become very poor in an instant.
A low sun can also completely blind motorists, especially if the car windows are misted up. If the temperature is near or below freezing mist can freeze on road airborne water droplets. If the visibility drops to less than a few hundred meters then there is serious danger for road traffic. Mist and fog generally arise from cooling at sunset or before dawn. Whether mist forms depends on a number of factors, not just weather and wind, but also the type of ground, the vegetation, the relief, and the presence of sources of warmth in the vicinity, such as towns surfaces and create treacherous slippery conditions. Mist and fog are a reduction of normal visibility to less than 1000 meters caused by small and cities. Mist and fog can therefore be very localized and may develop above snow, causing visibility to drop to less than 10 meters. It is then very easy, particularly in mountainous areas, to become disorientated and get lost.

1.3.7. Extreme heat
To cool down we yearn for water in lakes and at the seaside, or for the cool mountain breezes, but by no means can everyone escape extremes of heat. That may be impossible, and tropical warmth can keep us awake at night. High temperatures do not cause immediate danger, but a heat wave lasting a number of days with very high temperatures does indeed create risks. A heat wave can be particularly hazardous for seniors and people in poor physical health.

Days on end with temperatures above 40 C, scarcely any wind and muggy weather related to high relative humidity, have been a source of anxiety for many people in recent summers, and it is the expected pattern for summers to come. As a result of global warming we shall be facing hot summers and tropical temperatures more often. will show at a glance in which countries and regions of Europe heat waves are breaking all records. As a result of hot summers certain countries have already installed warning systems for heat waves.

Meteorologists cooperate closely on this with health authorities, who give advice on dealing with heat, such as to avoid exertion, drink a lot, keep out of direct sunshine, wear light clothes, use a fan or air-conditioning, take a cold shower more often, and keep an eye on elderly persons.

1.3.8. Extreme cold
Freezing air from the Arctic can penetrate far into the south of Europe causing bitterly cold conditions. If the sky is clear it may cool down rapidly at night, especially above freshly fallen snow and when the air is calm. Even during the daytime it may freeze all day, and severe wind chill is felt if it is windy. If at the same time it is snowing it may be almost impossible to stay outdoors. Every year arctic conditions take their toll, especially among the homeless.

The temperature of the atmosphere generally declines gradually with height, but on occasions it may instead rise. Meteorologists call that an “inversion” (reversal of the normal fall in temperature). It may then be warmer on mountain summits than in the valleys, by as much as 10 C. The warmer air lies on top of the colder air like a blanket. Then the cold conditions and pollutants cannot escape, causing the surface temperature to decline further, and the air to become unhealthier with persistent fog and smog.

1.3.9. Coastal and riverside dangers
In coastal areas the wind is generally stronger, but the local population is used to it. Waves as high as houses caused by a severe gale or hurricane, can cause dangerous conditions and damage on the coast. Ice floes reaching the coast and slabs of drift ice forced up and over each other can be a hazard. The worst disasters of all are caused by sea surges, extremely high sea levels along the persistent north-westerly gales along the North Sea coastlines. In particular, a series of gales one after another can raise water levels considerably and endanger the protecting dykes. The most severe storms occur mainly in the winter half of the year, but even in the summer it can blow a gale. In that case the main risk is of sudden gusts of wind during thunderstorms. This is an coast caused by high winds. If the peak of such a storm coincides with a spring tide large areas can be inundated. Infamous are the historic floods caused by exceptionally unpleasant surprise for the carefree holidaymaker on the beach who is not used to so much wind.

Coastal warnings
Those who go wind or kite surfing, or sailing, are advised to consult the special coastal warnings on meteoalarm. These warnings cover an area up to 22 km (12 nautical miles) from the coast.

1.3.10. Forest and bush fires
The risk of forest and bush fires is closely related to the weather. If it hasn’t rained for a long time and it is very warm the countryside dries out and fire can easily break out. Many fires are a result of people’s carelessness but lightning strikes can also ignite them.
Strong winds can fan the flames and spread the fire in a particular direction, sometimes at a speed of 25 km per hour. In regions with mountains and coastline the fires can spread very unevenly as a result of local winds from the sea or the hillsides.

Global warming is leading to further desiccation in the Mediterranean area, resulting in an increased fire risk. A number of meteorological services already publish warnings of forest fire danger levels. Various meteorological data are used in model calculations to estimate the fire risk. Aircraft and satellites are now used extensively to follow the extent of forest fires, enabling them to be fought as effectively as possible.

1.3.11. Avalanches
What would the Alps or Pyrenees be without snow?
Winter sport enthusiasts look forward to it every year, but there mustn’t be too much of it. Excessive snowfall can isolate whole areas. In addition the danger of avalanches is then exacerbated, so that your winter sport holiday in the mountains can end dramatically.

Every year avalanches kill dozens of skiers. Avalanches of snow may occur under totally different circumstances, both during periods of frost and of thaw, especially when a warm (Föhn) wind is blowing. In such a case the top layer of snow melts rapidly, especially if the sun is shining. This layer of snow can then easily start to slide. Wet snow or slush can also easily cause avalanches from the weight of the large amounts of water they contain. Rain and thawing, often in springtime, cause wet or surface avalanches.

Heavy snowfall accompanied by low temperatures can result in avalanches of powdery snow, thick clouds of snow which descend at high speed, sometimes up to 200 or 300 km per hour. Such a thick cloud of snow has enormous destructive power, mainly through the pressure wave that precedes it and the wind that accompanies it. Such avalanches can easily kill because victims’ lungs are filled with powdery snow, which may literally suffocate them.
The color coding of offers you coverage of the severity of the avalanche risk in many parts of Europe.

1.4 Filtering the symbols
If you only want to inform yourself on awareness for a certain parameter you may do so by selecting it with the “awareness type” scrollbar. You have to keep in mind that some parameters, such as for example: avalanches, forest fires, extreme temperatures and coastal events, are not covered by all participating countries.

1.5 Today or tomorrow and system information time
The meteoalarm system offers you the choice to inform yourself on today’s or tomorrow’s awareness across Europe. You can select this choice by changing the “display” scrollbar in the upper part of the homepage. Today and tomorrow are linked to Central European Time (CET = UTC 1) and during the European daylight saving time period to the Central European Summer Time (CEST = UTC 2).

1.6 How old is the information
You will find a time stamp in the upper left corner of the European map, giving the latest update moment, date and time(CET or CEST) for the meteoalarm system information.

1.7 How to solve outdated information
If the meteoalarm information does not get updated on your computer you may try to get it refreshed by selecting F5. If this does not work you should check your internet connection (is it still active?) or you may have local cache problems (try to empty your cache).

2. Country level (2nd level)

While the highest colour assigned within one of the regions of each country will consistently colour this country on the European overview map. On the country level map you will find specific details on the awareness situation in each participating country.

You can reach this country level by mouse clicking a specific country on the European geographical map, or by mouse clicking a country banner in the overview table on the right hand side of the homepage .

2.1 Country information
The country map will show the country regions and the awareness levels raised for these regions. Starting from an orange awareness level and for some countries already for yellow, a symbol (indicating the weather parameter at stake) is placed within the region. If more than one symbol is assigned (at a maximum of three) for one region, you will notice this by moving your mouse over the geographical domain (the regions). This “mouse over” function will show you the name of the region together with the symbol(s) assigned in the upper left corner of the geographical map. Also on this country level you will find an overview table showing all country regions, the awareness levels raised together with the related symbols (parameters).

In the legend, at the lower part of this webpage, you will find the total range of symbols (weather parameters) for which this specific country assigns awareness levels.

Again you may choose for today’s or tomorrow’s awareness information by selecting it with the “display” scrollbar.

Mouse clicking on the NMS-logo (the source of origin of the national awareness information) you will be linked to the NMS web servers home- or warning pages.

3 Country region information (3rd level)

If you mouse click on one of the regions of a country it will bring you to the country regional level with even more details on the specific awareness information raised for this region.

3.1 Timeline and intensity information and background pictures
Starting from awareness level Orange and for most countries already starting from Yellow, you will find for each region additional awareness information. Such as a “timeline” showing the period in which the event is expected to happen and some countries may add intensity information on this regional level, such as wind speed, snow- or rainfall amounts or density of the fog. Again the parameter and awareness colour is visible, but now presented together with a background picture giving you a more lively indication on the weather and impact expected, urging you to anticipate to the danger.

3.2 More than one weather parameter for a region

If a certain region has more than one awareness parameter you will find all this information separated for each assigned parameter.

3.3 Warning details on the NMS website

On the right hand bottom side you will find the NMS logo. Clicking on this logo will link you to the Natonal Meteorological Service home- or warning pages where you may find: Warning texts, explanations on colour assignment strategy and any additional observations related to the expected dangerous or extreme weather.

4. Source of information (the origin) and intellectual ownership of information
  • The National Meteorological Services (NMS)from all participating countries are responsible to deliver their awareness information to be gathered and presented within the Meteoalarm system. The awareness levels assigned within Meteoalarm together with the related symbols and other more detailed information origins from these Service´s.
  • All dynamical Meteoalarm information, originating from National Meteorological Services together with all related additional information and features on the national web servers linked via Meteoalarm, will remain under full responsibility and in intellectual ownership by the originating NMS.
  • The Meteoalarm system itself provides the framework to present all this gathered European meteorological awareness information. This collective database and graphical system with all features, such as software and hardware are owned by Eumetnet = The network of European meteorological services.
  • The Austrian National Meteorological Service (ZAMG = Zentral Anstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik) has been made responsible by Eumetnet to support and maintain the operational Meteoalarm system and its web server(s).
  • Users of the website are supposed to read and agree on all the Terms and Conditions that go with the use of the Meteoalarm website. You will find the link to our terms and conditions in the upper part of the website entrance page (the home page).

5. Proxy Servers

  • Any kind of proxy mechanism (client browser, dedicated and transparent company/ISP proxies, firewalls and gateways with proxy functionality) can affect the actuality of displayed content of
  • Meteoalarm itself caches the images for max. of 10 minutes, the maps itself are created every 20 minutes (see timestamps on maps.). Contact your administrator if the displayed time is outdated.
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