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What Traffic Signs Give Adverse Weather Warnings?

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Adverse Weather Frost Ice Snow Freezing

Adverse weather causes accidents and delays on the roads. Particularly severe weather can even close roads or oblige motorists to abandon their vehicles.

This is why motorists should listen to traffic reports on the radio and TV, especially during the winter. They must also take note of the road signs that warn of adverse weather and that help drivers cope with bad conditions.


Some areas of the country have regular flooding. This can affect swathes of land bordering rivers and lakes.

The flood warning road sign is a white triangle with a red border. The sign says “Flood” in black letters inside the triangle.

Ice and Snow

The road sign that warns of ice or snow is another red-bordered triangle. In the middle, on a white background, is a snowflake symbol.

Exclamation Mark

Another triangular warning sign that advises motorists about adverse weather has a black exclamation mark against a white background. There is further information about the weather on a separate sign beneath the triangle.

This second sign is rectangular and white with a black-border. The wording on it may be “Ice”, “Snow drifts” or “Frost damage”. Frost damage refers to potholes and cracks in a road’s surface.

Slippery Roads

Some stretches of road become slippery after rain. The warning sign for a slippery road is a triangle with a red border and an image of an out-of-control car.

Roads Closed

Some hilly country roads are impassable after a fall of snow or during freezing, icy periods. These roads may have snow gates that the highway authorities pull across the roads and lock in place.

Many snow gates are simple metal barriers. They have a sign attached to them in the middle. This sign is white and circular and has a red border. Within the border are the words “ROAD CLOSED”.

Variable Message Signs

Variable message signs appear above motorway lanes or along the sides of trunk roads. The signs are black with orange lettering.

Traffic control units post messages on the signs. These messages may warn of congestion or an accident. They also advise motorists about adverse weather.

Common weather messages include warnings about black ice, freezing fog and imminent falls of snow. Some announce that a weather plan is in force. This plan may involve the use of gritters, snowploughs, lane closures and speed restrictions.

Snow Poles

Striped snow poles appear along the verges of country roads where heavy falls of snow are common. The poles show the position of a road when snow covers the road surface and the surrounding landscape. The stripes on the poles may be red and white or red and black.

Temporary and Permanent

Some adverse weather warning signs are on temporary stands by the sides of roads. Others are permanent. These are usually in less populated, bleaker areas of the country.

Whatever the time of year, though, motorists should heed the advice these signs give. Even in the summer, some glens in the Highlands of Scotland experience night-time temperatures that fall below freezing and cause ice to form on the roads.

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