What do Yellow, Orange, and Red rainfall warning signals mean?
It was a laudable effort on the part of PAGASA back in 2012 to use color codes to simplify its Rainfall Warning System. However I instantly got confused and wondered why they initially used a “Green Warning” to refer to the middle warning level when, in most cases, “green” is associated with nature and symbolizes calmness. In fact, in traffic signals, the green light means “Go” or to continue with what you are doing.
Based on my research, apparently PAGASA used the Yellow-Green-Red color scheme because the colors refer to the visualization of the amount of rain in PAGASA’s meteorological maps. This makes sense for weathermen and meteorologists — but not for the average Filipino.
New PAGASA Color-Coded Rainfall Warning Signals
This is why it’s a welcome surprise when PAGASA and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) later announced that they are replacing the “Green” warning signal with “Orange”.
Thus the new color-coded rainfall warning signals being used by PAGASA are:
- Yellow: MONITOR weather conditions
- Orange: ALERT for possible danger and evacuation
- Red: EVACUATE due to high potential of danger
Now this makes a lot of sense. Let’s find out below what exactly these warning signals mean.
What the colors mean: Yellow, Orange, Red warning signals
The “Yellow” signal remains as the most basic level. It means that there is heavy rain — or 7.5 to 15 mm of rain has been observed in the past hour and is expected to continue at this level. Flooding is possible that’s why people must MONITOR weather conditions and listen to weather updates in order to be constantly informed.
In short, YELLOW warning means “heavy rains are expected, flooding is possible, so monitor weather conditions.” Not a pressing emergency yet, but people should monitor and be alert for any adverse changes in weather conditions.
The “Orange” signal, meanwhile, is the next level of warning. The “orange signal” means rain is intense, or in technical terms, around 15 to 30 mm of rain has been observed in the past hour and is expected to continue at this level in the next two hours. People are advised to be ALERT for possible evacuation because flood may be a definite threat.
Thus, an ORANGE warning is a sign that “with intense rains, flooding is threatening, and the public is advised to be alert for possible evacuation.” In short, be ready to evacuate if you’re in areas under the Orange warning signal.
The “Red” signal constitutes an emergency. Serious flooding is expected, especially in low lying areas, because the amount of rain has reached a critical level, that is, more than 30 mm observed in the past hour and expected to continue in the next two hours. People are advised to EVACUATE when the “Red” signal is raised in their areas.
With a RED warning signal, “torrential rains could cause serious flooding in some areas, so affected residents must evacuate as soon as possible.” In simple terms: evacuate! Rains and flooding could get worse in areas placed under the Red warning signal, so evacuate and be safe!
PAGASA Infographic: Color-Coded Rainfall Warning System
To summarize, here’s a useful infographic prepared by PAGASA and Rappler showing the meanings of the color-coded Rainfall Warning System. Share to your friends so that they will be informed.
Now we know what those color signals mean from the beeping SMS alert texts we receive from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Keep safe and always be alert!
Image and Information Credits: PAGASA, Rappler