Specialist breakdown rescue

Our special operations team, helping you in severe weather

Keep track of major weather incidents affecting roads around the UK, with the help of our 'storm-chasing' Special Operations Response Team (AA SORT for short). Our SORT team supports the AA's regular patrol force and is sent out during bouts of severe weather – usually situations involving floods, snow, ice and mud.

The team has had rigorous rescue training and often works alongside the local police, fire and rescue services, Mountain Rescue, and the Highways Agency, among others. This is the place to find out what they're up to.

We've also teamed up with expert meteorologist Matthew Hugo, BSc, FRMetS, RMet, who has more than seven years of forecasting experience, including winter hazard forecasting, to make sure you have useful information when you need it. Check our severe weather page for Met Office warnings.

Read our latest blog posts

Wednesday 19 November 2pm

RVW courses

vehicle in water

The next two days see 18 of the team undertake their Rescue from Vehicles in Water course at the Tees white water centre.

These courses are perfect for th kind of environment we ask the team to work in, giving them safe exposure to vehicles surroundwed by moving water.

Wednesday 19 November 11am

Changeable weather ahead

  • Remaining mainly dry for many areas through the rest of Wednesday and into Thursday
  • Risk of some dense patches of fog across parts of Ireland, Wales and SW England into Thursday
  • Some bright or sunny spells at times, but fog on Thursday locally lingering all day
  • Increasingly wet and windy weather developing from the west during Friday
  • Temperatures near to average with some chilly nights possible but no widespread frosts expected.

Wednesday

Outbreaks of rain and showers across parts of Ireland and SW England will very slowly move northwards into parts of Wales. For E Scotland and E England a scattering of showers are possible, in association with a SE’ly wind, but for many areas a dry day is expected with some bright spells at times. Risk of some dense fog patches developing overnight across more western areas of the UK

Thursday

A potentially foggy start to Thursday, it may well linger well into the day too. Elsewhere apart from a few scattered showers, especially across E Scotland and NE England it will be another dry day with some bright spells, but overall quite a lot of cloud is expected.

Friday

Many eastern areas of the UK, apart from a few scattered showers will have another dry day on Friday with some brighter intervals. However, frontal systems will be approaching from the west through the day and this will bring an increasingly wet and windy spell of weather to Ireland and then other western areas later in the day.

Severe weather and temperatures

Main risk of severe weather in the next few days is from the risk of local and regional dense fog patches into Thursday morning. Where these develop they could be slow to clear and extra care will be required on the roads on Thursday morning.

 

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Tuesday 18 November 6pm

Cumbrian floods -5 years ago today

cumbria flood scene

Five years ago today we had pre-deployed to Cumbria in preparation for anticipated flooding the next day.

Cumbria had already had nearly an entire month's rainfall before in one 24hr spell over 300mm of rain fell.

What transpired was one of the worst flooding incidents in many years and this team's first exposure to a wide scale flood event.

We had been trained for the conditions that we faced, but the widespread devastation and the impact on communities is something that cannot be taught.

We spent 11 days working in Cumbria as part of the flood relief efforts. We learned a lot about the unique challenges of working in an area severely affected by flooding. Lessons that have been fed back into our training, our safe system of work and our risk assessments. All targeted at helping to protect AA members at the roadside, no matter what the weather brings.

I understand from talking to people in Cumbria that the impacts of 2009 are still being felt in communities and that life is only just returning back to normal after what were unprecedented scenes.

Monday 17 November 6pm

Mountain rescue meeting

Mountain Rescue meeting

Darron Burness, Operations manager for AASORT held a really positive meeting today with Andy Lee from Mountain Rescue England and Wales.

Andy is the National Water Officer for mountain rescue and discussions centred around how we can build on the existing ties to work better and closer together

Monday 17 November 10am

A drier week than of late

  • A generally drier week than of late is expected for most areas, but especially in the north and east
  • Some rain and showers at times, especially across more southern and western areas
  • Many areas becoming predominantly dry to end the week
  • Temperatures near to average, some chilly nights possible, especially locally and rurally
  • Risk of fog later in the week in particular, potentially dense and very slow to clear

Monday

A cloudy and damp start for most areas, especially across England and Wales but conditions will slowly improve as the day progresses with some drier and brighter conditions developing . Scattered showers will remain a risk across southern counties of England throughout the day though and cloudy and damp conditions will persist across northern and eastern Scotland.

Tuesday

Into Tuesday and with the exception of a few well scattered showers many areas are expected to have a mainly dry day with some bright or sunny spells and just variable amounts of cloud.

Wednesday

Weather fronts will move into more western and south-western areas with some outbreaks of rain expected across Ireland, Wales, SW England and the East of Scotland. Otherwise the mainly dry theme will continue for the bulk of England and Scotland.

Thursday

Some patchy rain or showers in places to start the day otherwise the day will be mainly dry. Some locally dense fog patches are possible to start the day as well and where these develop they could be very slow to clear, perhaps lingering all day in a few places. Otherwise some bright or sunny spells are possible into the afternoon.

Friday

After another possible foggy start to the day, of which may well be slow to clear once again, many areas are set fair with bright or sunny spells. An increasingly strong S’ly wind developing across more western areas will herald a change to wet and windy conditions across Ireland and other western areas of the UK later in the day and into the overnight period.

Temperatures

Temperatures this week are forecast to be near to average with highs ranging 8-13C. Some chilly nights are possible at times this week where skies clear, but overall no widespread cold and frosty conditions are expected.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 14 November 11am

Sunshine and showers

  • Sunshine and showers for many areas this weekend
  • Showers will be locally heavy though, especially across southern and western areas
  • Lengthy drier and brighter intervals expected in-between the showers
  • Risk of overnight mist and fog patches which may be very slow to clear the following morning
  • Risk of more prolonged spells of rain for parts of Scotland as Sunday progresses
  • Temperatures near to average, cooler than of late with cooler nights, but frost unlikely

Saturday and Sunday

The coming weekend will see low pressure dominate the weather. With the exception of Scotland which will see longer spells of rain later in the weekend, many areas will experience sunshine and showers.

The showers are expected to be heaviest and most frequent across southern and western areas of England and Wales and also across Ireland too.  A few rumbles of thunder may also be possible in some of the heaviest showers.

Between the showers there will be some lengthy drier and brighter intervals with the Midlands and N England, for example, having quite a dry weekend.

During Sunday longer spells of rain are expected to develop across northern and eastern Scotland in particular. Given that this region has seen heavy rain in the last few days, further rain may bring the risk of some localized flooding to prone areas.

With lighter winds than of late and some clear skies by night mist and fog patches are possible by night and where these develop they could be slow to clear with reduced visibility during the morning hours which is something to be aware of if traveling early this weekend.

Potential severe weather and temperatures

Localised heavy showers across southern and western areas may bring poor driving conditions.

Mist and fog is a potential issue this weekend, especially in N England and the Midlands.

Longer spells of rain developing over E Scotland during Sunday may increase the risk of localized flooding, but the risk, at the moment is low.

Temperatures this weekend will fall slightly compared with the mild conditions of the last few days and, overall, temperatures should be near to average.

Maximum temperatures are expected to range between 8C and 11C across Scotland, Ireland and N England and between 10C and 14C across Wales and the rest of England.

Overnight temperatures, whilst lower are still expected to stay above freezing.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Monday 10 November 11am

Wet, wet, wet!

  • Spells of wet and windy weather crossing the UK through the course of the week
  • Risk of some large rainfall totals between Monday and Friday with an increasing risk of local flooding
  • Southern and south-western areas of the UK at primary risk of flooding towards the end of the week
  • Rainfall totals in excess of 80mm possible in a few places between Monday and Friday
  • Temperatures near to average, if not slightly above so relatively mild
  • Little or no risk of frost or icy conditions this week with generally mild nights for many areas.

Monday and Tuesday

The week will start unsettled as low pressure dominates with outbreaks of rain, initially across Ireland, Wales and SW England, gradually moving north and east into Tuesday. Some large rainfall totals are possible in places across these areas, whilst in comparison E England and E Scotland will see a relatively dry start to the week.

Wednesday

By mid-week some wet and windy weather will have progressed across many areas and through the day Scotland, N England and E England is at risk of spells of rain, some of which will be heavy. Following on behind across Ireland, Wales and SW England will be a mixture of sunshine and showers but these will be locally heavy at times.

Thursday and Friday

Further unsettled conditions will spread across many areas to end the week as low pressure develops just to the west of the UK. As a result after a potential dry start to the week across northern and eastern areas of the UK on Thursday wet and windy weather in the west will gradually progresses eastwards. Friday in particular looks set to be a wet day for many areas of the UK as outbreaks of moderate and heavy rain make slow progress eastwards.

Severe weather and temperatures

weather map

Between Monday and Friday there is likely to be an increasing risk of large rainfall totals developing across Ireland, Wales, S and SW England and also perhaps across E and SE Scotland. The areas at greatest risk have been highlighted and it is across these regions that 50-60mm of rainfall is possible. However, across parts of SW England and Wales especially rainfall totals between Monday and Friday may exceed 80mm and this, as a result, is likely to bring a risk of flooding to some areas by the end of the week

Temperatures this week will generally be near to average with maximum temperatures ranging between 9C and 15C. There is little or no risk of any frost or icy conditions this week with mild nights expected throughout the week.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Friday 07 November 11am

Cool and unsettled weekend ahead

  • Generally remaining unsettled this weekend, especially so on Saturday
  • Risk of heavy rain and showers moving northwards during Saturday, local downpours possible
  • Rain clears to showery conditions into Sunday with drier and brighter intervals
  • Risk of overnight patchy mist and fog, this may be locally dense
  • Nights chilly, but the risk of frost will be quite low and restricted to more northern areas of the UK
  • Temperatures near to average, so feeling quite cool, especially in any wet weather.

Friday

weather map

The unsettled weather to end the week continues, the rain will continue to progress north and eastwards across most areas of the UK through the remainder of Friday. The risk continues for some large rainfall totals across parts of W and SW Scotland and perhaps down into parts of Cumbria through the day. Rainfall totals over both Thursday and Friday may well be in excess of 60mm to 80mm in places and some localised flooding is possible across the areas highlighted.

Saturday

An overcast start to the day across many south-western areas of the UK with outbreaks of potentially heavy rain. This will spread north and east during the day. The rain, whilst heavy, will be quite showery in nature but could still bring some locally large rainfall totals and some poor driving conditions. Following on behind across Scotland and Ireland will be a mixture of sunshine and showers. As winds fall light later in the day and overnight then some mist and fog patches are possible.

Sunday

Any overnight mist and fog patches may be locally slow to clear but Sunday, overall, is expected to be the better day of the weekend. A few scattered showers may develop almost anywhere across the UK but these will be few and far between and there will be a lot of dry and bright weather, with some sunny spells too. As skies clear later in the day and overnight then Sunday night may well bring a heightened risk of mist, fog and patchy frost.

Severe weather and temperatures

Risk of large rainfall totals in the short term across parts of Scotland in particular, local disruption possible but heavy rain across other areas of the UK may bring some temporary poor driving conditions. Further heavy showers and spells of rain on Saturday may also bring some large rainfall totals and poor driving conditions. Overnight mist and fog patches, especially locally, may develop and these too bringing poor traveling conditions at times.

Temperatures this weekend will, overall, be near to average. Maximum temperatures across Scotland, Ireland and N England will range 8-11C and across Wales and the remainder of England 10-14C. Minimum temperatures ranging 3-8C generally.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Thursday 06 November 6pm

Ford frustration

Think Don't Sink poster

Calls to breakdowns at fords are back on our radar this week. We’ve been called to a number of motorists this week that have been caught out by the depth of water. Sadly many will find that their vehicle is ultimately written-off.

Here is some general guidance, but the most important thing is if there is any doubt, find another way.

  • Don’t assume that a ford is always safe to cross just because the road goes into the river on one side and comes out on the other – the depth of the water and its flow rate will change with the weather.
  • If you’re using sat nav, don’t follow it blindly across water – it doesn’t know anything about the current state of the river.
  • Always check depth gauges and heed warning signs/lights - most fords don’t have gates/barriers that can be closed when the river’s impassable.
  • If you’re at all unsure of the conditions it’s safer to go the long way round rather than risk your vehicle being swept down river – conditions can change very quickly, particularly following heavy rain. Think, don't sink!
  • It's worth remembering that 30cm (a foot) of flowing water can be enough to move the average family car

Ian, AA SORT swiftwater rescue instructor

Wednesday 05 November 11am

Cold and frosty then wet and windy

  • Mainly dry with bright or sunny spells for many today with a cold and frosty Bonfire Night ahead
  • Increasingly wet and windy to end the week after a cold start to Thursday morning
  • Heavy rain with strong or perhaps near gale force winds developing during Thursday
  • Heavy rain lingering across eastern areas of the UK on Friday, brighter with blustery showers following
  • Temperatures near to average so feeling quite cold
  • Remaining unsettled into the coming weekend at the moment with temperatures near average.

Wednesday

For many areas of the UK the remainder of Wednesday will be dry with bright or sunny spells. Despite the sunshine it will be chilly and a few showers are possible across parts of E England. The evening will see clear skies across most the UK and as a result it will become cold with the first widespread frost of the season.

Thursday

A cold and frosty start to the day across many areas with temperatures locally down to -3C or -4C. Wet and windy conditions already across Ireland during the morning will gradually spread eastwards into most areas of the UK with some locally heavy rain and strong winds at times. Given the increasing wind it will feel quite a cold and raw.

Friday

weather map

Outbreaks of heavy rain will continue to slowly move eastwards across the UK during the day and lingering across eastern areas well into the afternoon. Following on behind, from the west, will be sunshine and scattered showers. The combination of heavy rain and showers is bringing a risk of some large rainfall totals to parts of Scotland, Cumbria and N Ireland in particular with perhaps 60mm to 80mm of rainfall possible across the areas highlighted between Thursday and the end of Friday.

Severe weather and temperatures

Risk of some large rainfall totals (60-80mm) across parts of the north of the UK to end the week, some localised flooding possible along with poor driving conditions.

Temperatures through the remainder of the week are likely to range between 8C and 12C across Scotland, Ireland and N England and between 11C and 15C across Wales and the remainder of England. Overnight temperatures tonight (Wednesday) and into Thursday morning will fall to near freezing across many areas.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

Tuesday 04 November 11am

Sun cream summary

The AA and sun care?

Darron and John from the team are off to meet with Uvistat to discuss our ongoing partnership in raising awareness and prevention for the rising cases of malignant melanoma

For the last two years, at hundreds of events across the UK, visitors have been pleasantly surprised to find AA staff distributing Uvistat sun cream. The AA is taking this issue very seriously and we are delighted to be able to work alongside Melanoma UK and Uvistat in promoting the dangers of sun exposure. Look out for AA staff at events across 2015 for your free protection.

A word from Uvistat

Colin Darroch, the Managing Director at Boston Healthcare, who manufacture Uvistat sun creams, comments;

"Over the past 2 years we have been proud to have Uvistat represented with such a prestige organisation. Our alliance with the AA has been a key part in our message to not only enjoy the sun, but make sure we stay protected. Having Uvistat represented by the AA at major public events is a key driver to deliver our sun care message.

We really look forward to our 2015 campaign, working alongside the AA we will continue to raise awareness and prevent the rising cases of malignant melanoma."

Stay safe, enjoy the sun!

Monday 03 November 11am

Rather cold and unsettled

  • Rain and showers expected at times this week but with Wednesday mainly dry for most
  • Temperatures much nearer to average than of late and feeling colder, especially by night
  • Risk of the first widespread frost of the season for many areas on Wednesday night after a dry day
  • Wet and windy weather spreading eastwards during Thursday after a cold and frosty start
  • Risk of some travel disruption due to heavy rain and strong winds during Thursday.

Monday and Tuesday

The week is expected to start showery with many areas of the UK seeing a mixture of sunshine and showers. The showers may well merge to give longer spells of rain at with the potential for hail and local thunder as well. It will be rather cold and where skies clear for any length of time by night then some patchy frost is possible.

Wednesday

Mid-week is expected to be the driest day of the week. Any residual rain will clear leaving it mainly dry through the day with some bright or sunny spells. Despite the sunshine it will be quite a chilly day and with clear skies by evening across many areas, the first widespread frost of the season is expected overnight into Thursday. Conditions will be near-perfect for all bonfire and fireworks displays during the evening given the combination of mainly light winds and dry weather.

Thursday and Friday

Thursday will start cold with a widespread frost across many areas, with the exception of Ireland where it will be wet and windy. These wet and windy conditions will then spread eastwards across many areas during the day on Thursday with some large rainfall totals possible. It is likely to take until mid to late afternoon for the wet and windy weather to reach eastern England. Into Friday and for many areas it’s an unsettled day with early rain in the east slowly clearing and then many areas seeing showers or longer spells of rain.

Severe weather and temperatures

Potential severe weather this week initially arrives from the first widespread risk of frost across many areas on Thursday morning. Thereafter wet and windy weather on Thursday may bring local rainfall totals up to 40mm across some western areas with some poor driving and traveling conditions on Thursday.

Temperatures this week will be much nearer to average with highs ranging between 8C and 14C. Overnight temperatures will widely fall into single figures this week but it is Wednesday night that is likely to be the coldest night of the week with inland temperatures nearing or falling below 0C.

Matt Hugo, Meteorologist

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About the Special Operations Response Team (SORT)

Each vehicle is double-crewed and trained in flood response and search and rescue (certified to DEFRA Level 3) trained by the same people who train the RNLI and many fire service teams. Crews also undergo 4x4 driver training RoSPA certified, and regularly undertake joint multi-agency training exercises.

Meet some of the team

Darron Burness

Operations Manager Special Operations Response Team

Darron Burness

While at school, I completed two weeks' work experience at AA Workshop in Birmingham, before joining the AA in 1991 as an workshop apprentice. I worked my way up to a Technical Specialist Patrol for Birmingham and Worcester.

August 2008 was a pivotal moment, when I attended the first 4x4 AA SORT course as a Patrol member of the SORT Team.

As well as being Area Manager for Coventry and Northampton, then Wolverhampton and Black Country managing 60 AA Patrols, I started to assist with managing the SORT team during deployments. Since December 2010 I have been managing the AA's response during severe weather and the AA's presence at shows and festivals throughout the year.


Matt Hugo

Meteorologist

Matt Hugo

I have a passion and interest in the weather from a very young age is what has driven me for many years to become a weather forecaster. Through years of education including a science degree and a year spent studying in Canada I finally made the break through in my late 20s and became a forecaster.

Now, with over seven years worth of operational forecasting experience from winter hazard forecasting, and convective forecasting in summer to forecasting for the oil and gas industry, I have a solid understanding of the weather and forecasting. I'm now a Fellow of The Royal Meteorological Society (FRMetS) and live in Lancashire with my wife and little boy.


 

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