Colour code warnings for snow alarm in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
colour code warning - stock photo - Madrid 2021

WEATHER – Green, yelloworange, red, and black; these colour code warnings are issued by both the Spanish meteorology agency AMET and the traffic service DGTWith snow on the way in Spain, it´s useful to know that these colour codes don´t all mean the same thing.

Therefore, with every forecast of snow or other extreme weather changes, the question is how it will affect daily life. Years ago, the AEMET and the DGT set up different warning systems when it comes to the weather and its effect on traffic. However, althought the same colours are often used, they do not always mean the same. Therefore, such a system can sometimes cause confusion. 

What do yellow, orange, and red weather codes mean in Spain? 

Furthermore, snow is forecast in several parts of Spain over the next few days. So, if the AEMET for snow issues a warning, three warning colours are used; yellow, orange, and red. 

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  • Yellow: A layer of snow between 2 and 5 cm is expected. 
  • Orange: A layer of snow is expected between 5 and 20 cm. 
  • Red: a pack of snow is expected between 20 and 40 cm (or more). 

Weather alert codes not the same everywhere in Spain 

However, it is important to note this type of warning does not apply to places in Spain above 1,500 metres. For example, in Madrid, a weather alert is issued much faster when snow is expected than in the mountains. Each alarm level is basically adjusted to the region where snow is expected. 

What do green, yellow, red and black traffic codes mean in Spain? 

The Spanish traffic service DGT also issues colour code warnings when the situation on the road changes. Consequently, these codes are closely related to the snowfall in Spain. The DGT published an infographic in 2018 about what to do if the DGT issues these. 

  • Green: It starts to snow and the speed limit is 100 km/h on the highway and dual carriageways and 80 km/h on other roads. Trucks are not allowed to overtake and driving in the mountains should be avoided. 
  • Yellow: A layer of snow remains on the road. Trucks and cars with freight are banned on the road. Other vehicles are not allowed to drive faster than 60 km/h and it is advised to keep the same lane as much as possible and not to make unexpected manoeuvres. 
  • Red: The road is completely covered with a thick layer of snow. Buses, trucks, and cars with freight are not allowed to drive. Other vehicles must limit their speed to a maximum of 30 km/h and are only allowed on the road with snow chains or special winter tires. 
  • Black: The road is covered with a thick layer of snow. It is forbidden to drive. If you get stuck, try to get the car to the side of the road and stay in it with the heating on until help arrives. Only if the occupants have a shelter nearby are they allowed to leave the car to go there. 

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