Weatheradio Canada

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Weatheradio Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada logo.svg
Broadcast area Canada
Frequency 162.4 - 162.55 MHz
Format Weather radio
Owner Environment and Climate Change Canada / Meteorological Service of Canada
Website Weatheradio Canada

Weatheradio Canada (in French Radiométéo Canada) is a Canadian radio network that broadcasts continuous weather information. Owned and operated by Environment and Climate Change Canada's Meteorological Service of Canada division, the network transmits in both official languages (English and French) from 230 sites across Canada.

In most locations, the service broadcasts on one of seven specially-allocated VHF radio frequencies, audible only on dedicated "weather band" receivers or any VHF radio capable of receiving 10 kHz bandwidth FM signals centered on these assigned channels, which are located within the larger "public service band".

In some locations — primarily national and provincial parks and remote communities with little or no local media service — a transmitter operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation carries the service on a standard AM or FM broadcast frequency. As of August 2007, most of these AM and FM transmitters were unlicensed by the CRTC under a special license exemption granted to low-power non-commercial broadcasters.[1]

Weatheradio Canada has a national coverage rate of over 90%. However, not every populated or forecasted region of the country is within range of a transmitter.[2]

The radio frequencies used by Weatheradio Canada are the same as those used by its American counterpart, NOAA Weather Radio. Weather radio receivers designed for use in one country are compatible for use in the other. Since 2004, the service has been using Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alerting technology to disseminate severe weather bulletins. Weatheradio has indicated that, in the future, it also plans to add other hazard and civil emergency information (such as natural disasters, technological accidents, AMBER alerts and terrorist attacks) to its broadcasts.

Weather information is broadcast using pre-recorded voice segments.

History[edit]

For the most part, the VHF-FM band plan and radio technology used remains the same. While Weatheradio has evolved and incorporated many features into its broadcasts, Canada has not made any innovations to the transmission standard, as the technology was designed for American use. However, the technology is available for Canadians to implement at their discretion.

Frequencies[edit]

Weatheradio Canada signals are transmitted using FM (10 kHz bandwidth), with band spacing of 25 kHz. The service uses these frequencies:[3]

  • 162.400 MHz
  • 162.425 MHz
  • 162.450 MHz
  • 162.475 MHz
  • 162.500 MHz
  • 162.525 MHz
  • 162.550 MHz

Programming[edit]

Weather information is broadcast in both official languages which is English first then French. Weather alert broadcasts are inserted within the normal playlist, and are available in both official languages. Marine forecasts are broadcast, though on a limited schedule. Most marine forecasts are broadcast on the marine frequency, which is not available on most weather radios. One requires a special receiver capable of receiving the marine frequency, which varies by province. Environment Canada formerly broadcast a full marine forecast which included marine alerts; this has since changed between 2007 and 2009. Weather broadcasts also include the UV index for the forecasted day, and for the following day during the UV index season. The index runs from 1 (low) to 10 (extreme).

Environment Canada intends on changing the language used in their broadcasts, this also includes the Severe Weather Bulletins. For example, a simple broadcast would inform the listener where a Severe Thunderstorm is located, where that storm is going, the speed of the thunderstorm, and potential risks in the surrounding areas. This change comes as weatheradio users gave feedback to Environment Canada, indicating that Weatheradio is too basic in the language it uses, and more information is needed not only in the general forecast, but in severe weather alerts.

English

Weather information broadcasts in English are updated at 5:00AM, 11:00AM, 4:00PM local time. Revised forecasts are issued when conditions warrant between the scheduled times as indicated here. In the late 1990s, Environment Canada stopped using the phrase REVISED before the revised forecast, though is still used in marine forecasts. Weather Conditions are updated hourly which includes: Time, City/Town, temperature, sky condition (not available in all forecasted areas), wind speed (wind gust), relative humidity (not available in all forecasted areas), barometric pressure (not available in all forecasted areas) and station identification.

French

Weather information broadcast in French is updated at 5:00AM, 11:00AM, 4:00PM local time. Revised forecasts are issued when conditions warrant between the scheduled times as indicated here. In the late 1990s Environment Canada stopped using the phrase REVISED before the revised forecast, though is still used in marine forecasts. Weather Conditions are updated hourly; this includes: Time, City/Town, temperature, sky condition (not available in all forecasted areas), wind speed (wind gust), relative humidity (not available in all forecasted areas), barometric pressure (not available in all forecasted areas), and station identification.

Alert Test

Environment Canada conducts a Required Weekly Test (RWT) each Wednesday, this normally is done between 11:50AM and 12:00PM. This test enables users to confirm that their weather-radio devices are in working order. Environment Canada also conducts a Required Monthly Test (RMT), which broadcasts each first Wednesday of the month. Required Weekly Tests are conducted using the S.A.M.E bursts, and they do not contain the 1050 Hz tone heard in severe weather broadcasts. Only Required Monthly Tests are conducted with the 1050 Hz tone as well as S.A.M.E. bursts.[4]

Alerting[edit]

Emergency alerts are sent using Specific Area Message Encoding data bursts, for the following alerts: Hurricane Watch and Warning, Tornado Watch and Warning, Wind Warning, Winter Storm Watch and Warning, Severe Thunderstorm Watch and Warning, Snowsquall Watch and Warning. A 1050 Hz audio tone for rainfall warnings, or to activate the weather radio before broadcasting the SAME bursts. Most models will activate for the 1050 Hz tone, while some Midland weather radios only activate for the SAME bursts. The use of the S.A.M.E and 1050 Hz tone may vary by province.

Common Environment Canada Alerts via Weatheradio (Common Alerts vary in the Canadian Territories)
Event name Code Description
Tornado Watch TOA Also known as a red box. Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms producing tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Watches are usually in effect for several hours, with six hours being the most common (also automatically indicates a Severe Thunderstorm Watch). These are common in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec.
Tornado Warning TOR A tornado is indicated on radar by Environment Canada meteorologists, or by weather spotters. These are common in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch SVA A watch issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) that outlines a “watch zone” where conditions are favourable for the development of thunderstorms, some of which have the potential to become severe thunderstorms.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning SVR A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) when at least one thunderstorm that produces hail large enough to cause damage (at least 2 cm in diameter), heavy rain, and/or damaging winds, is imminent. This is indicated by radar and/or observation reports.
Wind Warning HWW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) for sustained winds of speeds that pose a significant threat to public safety and property. (Warning typically issued when sustained or gusts reach 90km/h).
Blizzard Warning BZW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) for hazardous weather conditions characterized by high winds, and a widespread reduction in visibility due to falling and/or blowing snow. Blizzard conditions may persist for a period of time on their own or be part of an intense winter storm. In the latter case, a blizzard warning is issued instead of a winter storm or snowfall warning. Blizzard conditions may be accompanied by a severe wind chill making it even more dangerous.
Tropical Storm Watch TRA A watch issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) for a specific area that a tropical storm or a developing tropical storm poses a possible threat within 36 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning TRW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) indicating that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds within the range 63 km-117 km/h, are expected in specified areas within 24 hours or less. By nature, a tropical storm warning also implies the threat of local flooding from heavy rainfall.
Hurricane Watch HUA A watch issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) for a specific area that a hurricane or a developing hurricane condition poses a possible threat within 36 hours. This watch does not mean that a hurricane is definitely going to strike; it simply means that everyone in the watch area should be more aware of the potential for a hurricane, and be prepared to act quickly if definite warnings are issued that a hurricane will strike.
Hurricane Warning HUW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) that means one or both of the following dangerous effects of a hurricane are expected in a specified area in 24 hours or less: (a) Average sustained winds of 64 knots (118 km/h) or higher;(b) Dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves, even though winds expected may be less than hurricane force. By nature a hurricane also implies the threat of local flooding from heavy rainfall.
Winter Storm Watch WSA A watch issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service in advance of a winter storm warning, to alert the public of the possibility of a potential winter weather storm.
Winter Storm Warning WSW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service for a major snowfall, or significant snowfall combined with freezing rain, strong winds, blowing snow, and/or extreme wind chill. The mix of these winter weather conditions poses a threat to public safety and property. Winter storm conditions are not necessarily restricted to the winter season, but may occur in the late autumn and early spring as well. (Snowsquall, Freezing Rain also use this SAME code).
Tsunami Watch TSA Means that an event has occurred where a tsunami may have been or has been generated, and tsunami waves may hit along the coast in the watch area. Events that may generate tsunamis include: Earthquakes, Landslides and Volcanic Eruptions. How strong the event is and where it occurred is a determining factor on the estimated time of arrival of the first wave, and the height of the waves. Tsunami Watch is issued along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Canada.
Tsunami Warning TSW Means that an event has occurred where a tsunami has been generated that may be a threat to life and property along the coast in the warning area. Events that may generate tsunamis include: Earthquakes, Landslides and Volcanic Eruptions. How strong the event is and where it occurred is a determining factor on the estimated time of arrival of the first wave, and the height of the waves. Tsunami Warning is issued along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Canada.
Flash Freeze Warning FSW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) for when a rapid drop in temperature to below freezing, results in significant ice on road surfaces. This ice is produced by the freezing of residual water from either melted snow or falling/fallen rain.
Required Weekly Test RWT A Required Weekly Test performed each Wednesday near noon.
Required Monthly Test RMT A Required Weekly Test performed each first Wednesday of the month near noon, and typically performed after the Required Weekly Test.
Third Letter Event Type Category Description
W Warning A type of alert where a hazardous weather or environmental event that poses a significant threat to public safety and property is certain or imminent.
A Watch A type of alert where conditions are favourable for the development of weather or an environmental hazard that poses a significant threat to public safety and property, but the occurrence, location, and/or timing of the expected hazardous condition(s) is still too uncertain to issue a warning. It is intended to heighten public awareness of the potential impact of the event, and serves as a lead-up to a warning.
S Advisory A type of alert where a certain weather or environmental hazard (for example air quality, humidex, and fog) is either occurring, imminent or is expected to occur.

Future Changes[edit]

Environment Canada has begun working on in-house network upgrades, which include new male and female voices for Weatheradio Canada. Samples released by Environment Canada to Weatheradio Canada users indicate a new male voice to be used for the English broadcast, while a female voice to be used for the French broadcast. The text to speech used for future use was developed by Environment Canada, and intends on replacing the Starcaster text to speech currently used. Another in house change currently being performed, is the ability to receive alerts faster than we currently receive. Currently weather alerts receive between 3 to 5 minute delay from the time they are issued, and the time weather radio devices receive the signal. The new in house change intends on shortening the time the signal is send and received, this change should be completed by the end of 2017.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]