Canadian weather radar network

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Canadian weather radar network
Canadian weather radar network.png
Location of the weather radars in Canada.
Country of originCanada
No. built31
TypeC and S bands

The Canadian weather radar network consists of 31 weather radars spanning Canada's most populated regions. Their primary purpose is the early detection of precipitation, its motion and the threat it poses to life and property.

Each had until 2018 a range of 256 km (159 mi) in radius around the site to detect reflectivity, 3 angles with a range of 128 km (80 mi), for detecting velocity pattern (Doppler effect), and an extra long range up to 240 km (150 mi) at low elevation angle but strongly folded or aliased (where the maximum unambiguous velocity interval (±Vmax) is less than the full range of velocities being measured which leads to some being displayed with the wrong values[1]).

The renewal of the network, from 2018 to 2023, with new S-Band radars brings these numbers respectively to 300 km (190 mi) for reflectivity and 240 km (150 mi) for full Doppler coverage.[2] Furthermore, the new radars are dual-polarized which means precipitation type can be estimated directly. Starting in June 2021, some of the radars' ranges will be extended to 400 km (250 mi) in the lowest angle of reflectivity data.[3] The range extensions are intended to provide forecasters at the Meteorological Service of Canada, part of Environment and Climate Change Canada, with radar information while nearby radars are being replaced as part of the renewal.[4]


Research in weather radars in Canada began at the end of the Second World War with "Project Stormy Weather".[5] After the war, J.S. Marshall continued at McGill University the work with the "Stormy Weather Group".[6] The Canadian network was thus gradually formed and by 1997, there were 19 weather radars of two kinds across the country: 18 five centimeter wavelength (C-Band) radars and 1 ten centimeter wavelength (S-Band) at McGill, all of the radars detected reflectivity but only Carvel (Edmonton), King City (Toronto) et McGill were equipped with Doppler capabilities.

Environment Canada received approval in 1998 to upgrade the network to Doppler standard and to add 12 more radars with the operational characteristics coming from King City weather radar station (CWKR), the research radar of Environment Canada.[7] However, the McGill radar (at the J. S. Marshall Radar Observatory), while being part of the network, was owned by McGill University. It was a research as well as an operational radar and was modified independently. The Jimmy Lake and Lac Castor stations are owned and operated by the Department of Defense (DND), these are also part of the network.

In February 2017, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, announced the signature of a $83‑million contract with Selex ES to buy 20 new radars with the most modern technology available (S band and double polarized) to update the network.[8][9] with the contract containing options to replace all radars in the Canadian Weather Radar Network, by March 31, 2023. The first radar was installed in Radisson, SK in the fall of 2017. The second radar was installed in the summer of 2018 at Blainville in the Montreal region to replace the aging McGill radar (WMN). 2018 also saw replacement radars at Foxwarren MB, Timmins ON ( near Smooth Rock Falls), and Spirit River AB and 19 of the new radars were in place by the end of 2020 with the rest being replaced sequentially by 2023. An additional radar will be installed in the Lower Athabasca region in Alberta. In June 2021, to ensure continuity of radar coverage in some areas while radars are being replaced, several of the radars had their ranges extended to 400 km (250 mi) in the lowest angle of reflectivity data. Such areas include the Edmonton area and the southwestern region of Newfoundland.[3][4]

Characteristics before 2018[edit]

  • McGill radar (at the J. S. Marshall Radar Observatory):[10]
    • 9 metre (30 feet) diameter antenna.
    • Uses a klystron to produce a wavelength signal of 10 cm. (S-Band)
    • Doppler since 1993 and dual polarization was added in 1999.
  • King City weather radar station
    • This research radar is essentially a WSR-98A (see below) upgraded with dual polarization capability in 2004.
  • The rest of the network:[7]
    • The existing radars have antennas from two manufacturers: Enterprise Electronics Corporation (EEC) and Raytheon.
    • some of the existing radars have antennas produced by Andrew Canada. With a diameter almost double the old ones; resolutions improved by the same amount.
    • Use 5.6 cm wavelength emitting magnetrons. (C-Band)
    • Process received reflectivity and Doppler data with Sigmet Radar Data Systems, now a part of Vaisala Oyj.
    • Each radar in the network will thus be called a WSR-98E, WSR-98R or WSR-98A for Weather Surveillance Radar - 1998 (for the year of the start of the program) and the first letter of the manufacturer of the Pedestal/Antenna (Enterprise, Raytheon or Andrew).
    • Antennas of 3.6 metres in diameter for the pre-1998 vintage radars and 6.1 m for the new ones.
    • Pulse length and pulse repetition frequency adjustable. Pulse length 0.8,1.6 and 2.0s. Pulse repetition frequency (PRF) 250 Hz and Dual PRF (Doppler Mode) 1190/1200 Hz.

Scanning strategy[edit]

Because the network is using C band radars, compromises had to be used (see Doppler dilemma) between maximum reflectivity range and maximum non ambiguous velocities. The actual scanning strategy (2006) is divided in two separate scans over 10 minutes:[7]

  • Conventional cycle: 24 elevation angles scanned in 5 minutes to obtain a tri-dimensional view of the atmosphere within 256 km of the radar in reflectivity.
  • Doppler cycle: 4 angles scanned in reflectivity and velocities, the first three in a range of 128 km and the last within 256 km. This cycle is used to locate possible small scale rotation and shear in the wind pattern as well as the large scale circulation. The velocity data also help to filter artifacts in the reflectivity such as ground echos.

The McGill radar uses a S-band transmitter instead of a C-band transmitter to acquire reflectivities and velocities during each of its 24 elevation angles with the same 5 minute cycle time.[10]

Modernization project[edit]

Environment and Climate Change Canada received the funding from the Treasury Board in 2011 to undergo a major modernization project called 'WES (Weather and Environmental Services) Renewal' to upgrade to dual polarization all Canadian Radars in two separate five year plans. Complete network stabilization and systemic problems resolution were also part of this major effort by Environment and Climate Change Canada. The first five years concentrated on the upgrading and stabilizing of the existing radars. Then all Canadian weather radars will be replaced with a dual polarization S-band radar between 2017 and 2023. A new radar, owned and operated by ECCC, has been installed in Blainville (near Montreal) to replace the use of the McGill radar. As well, a new radar will be installed in the Lower Athabasca area.[11]

The new radar chosen is the Selex METEOR 1700S which is fully Doppler and dual polarized:[2][12]

  • Transmitter type: Klystron
  • Frequency : 2.7 - 2.9 GHz
  • Pulse repetition frequency (PRF): 250 – 2000 Hz
  • Pulse length (τ): 0.4 µs ... 4.5 µs
  • Peak power: 750 kW
  • Doppler range: 240 km
  • Reflectivity normal range: 300 km
  • maximum range: 600 km
  • Velocity resolution : ± 146 m/s
  • Antenna diameter: 8.5 m
  • Beamwidth : < 1°
  • Rotation: 6 min−1

These new S-Band radars offer more flexibility over the previous C-Band radars. The scanning strategy of 17 angles scanned in 6 minutes, and the new dual-polarization feature provide:[13]

  • Dual polarization will permit to better differentiate the type of precipitation (rain, snow, hail and freezing rain), biological and non-biological targets such as birds, insects, chaff, and tornado debris signature.
  • The radial velocity range (Doppler range) will be extended to 240 kilometres (150 mi), from 120 kilometres (75 mi), permitting an improved lead time in weather warnings issuance and a better overlap of radar coverage with other nearby radars.

Starting on June 15, 2021, some of the S-band radars have a modification of the scanning strategy : a low level angle of 0.3 degree will use a low PRF to extend its range to 400 km in reflectivity while a mid-level angle will be eliminated in the cycle in order to help in radar coverage.[3]

List of radars[edit]

The first modernization process began in the fall of 1998 with the opening of Bethune radar and ended in 2004 with the one in Timmins. The replacement of C-band 250 kW Magnetron single-pol radars with S-band 1MW Klystron dual-pol radars began in 2017 and will end in 2023.[14]

Canadian Weather Radar Network[15]
Site Location Province Coordinates ID/call sign Band Type Callsign meaning Notes
Aldergrove Vancouver British Columbia 49°01′00″N 122°29′13″W / 49.01662°N 122.48698°W / 49.01662; -122.48698 (CASAG - Aldergrove) CASAG S Selex 1700S Aldergrove New radar Selex METEOR 1700S operational since Septembre 7, 2021, replacing C-band CWUJ (WSR-98E).
Bethune Regina Saskatchewan 50°34′16″N 105°10′58″W / 50.57118°N 105.18290°W / 50.57118; -105.18290 (CASBE - Bethune) CASBE S Selex 1700S Bethune New radar commissioned in August 2019 replacing 98A (XBE). A temporary mobile X-band radar was deployed during the upgrade.
Blainville Montréal Québec 45°42′23″N 73°51′31″W / 45.70634°N 73.85852°W / 45.70634; -73.85852 (CASBV - Blainville) CASBV S Selex 1700S Blainville New radar commissioned at the end of September 2018, replacing McGill radar (CWMN).[16]
Britt Georgian Bay Ontario 45°47′35″N 80°32′02″W / 45.79317°N 80.53385°W / 45.79317; -80.53385 (CASBI - Britt) CASBI S Selex 1700S Britt New radar CASBI became operational on November 22, 2021, replacing the CWBI C-Band (WSR-98A).
Carvel Edmonton Alberta 53°33′38″N 114°08′42″W / 53.56056°N 114.14495°W / 53.56056; -114.14495 (CASCV - Carvel) CASCV S Selex 1700S Carvel The new radar S-Band replace CWHK (WSR-98E) since January 26, 2022
Chipman Central New Brunswick New Brunswick 46°13′20″N 65°41′57″W / 46.22232°N 65.69924°W / 46.22232; -65.69924 (CASCM - Chipman) CASCM S Selex 1700S Chipman New radar commissioned in September 2019 replacing 98E (XNC)
Cold Lake NW Saskatchewan / NE Alberta Alberta 54°22′43″N 110°03′41″W / 54.3785°N 110.061378°W / 54.3785; -110.061378 (CASCL - Cold Lake) CASCL S Selex 1700S Cold Lake New radar commissioned in October 27, 2021, replacing the C-band 98E at Jimmy Lake (CWHN).
Dryden Western Ontario Ontario 49°51′30″N 92°47′49″W / 49.85823°N 92.79698°W / 49.85823; -92.79698 (CASDR - Dryden) CASDR S Selex 1700S Dryden Replaced C-Band CXDR on September 3, in 2020.
Egbert (near Barrie) Southern Ontario Ontario 44°13′50″N 79°46′49″W / 44.2305662°N 79.7803300°W / 44.2305662; -79.7803300 CASTS S Selex 1700S N/A New radar site for research, training, and tests of material and software. It will be built at the Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments (CERA).
Exeter Southwestern Ontario Ontario 43°22′21″N 81°22′51″W / 43.37243°N 81.38070°W / 43.37243; -81.38070 (CASET - Exeter) CASET S Selex 1700S Exeter New radar commissioned in November 2019 replacing 98A (WSO)
Fort McMurray Northeastern Alberta Alberta CASFM S Selex METEOR 1700S New site radar scheduled for 2022 around 40 km South of Fort McMurray.
Foxwarren Eastern Saskatchewan/Western Manitoba Manitoba 50°32′56″N 101°05′09″W / 50.54887°N 101.08570°W / 50.54887; -101.08570 (CASFW - Foxwarren) CASFW S Selex 1700S Foxwarren Radar commissioned in September 2018, replacing CXFW, a C-band radar.[17] A temporary mobile X-band radar was deployed during the upgrade until October 31, 2018.[18][19]
Franktown Eastern Ontario Ontario 45°02′28″N 76°06′58″W / 45.04101°N 76.11617°W / 45.04101; -76.11617 (CASFT - Franktown) CASFT S Selex 1700S Franktown Radar commissioned in August 2021, replacing CXFT, a C-band radar.
Gore Central Hants County Nova Scotia 45°05′55″N 63°42′16″W / 45.09850°N 63.70433°W / 45.09850; -63.70433 (CASGO - Gore) CASGO S Selex 1700S Gore New radar Selex METEOR 1700S operational since August 30, 2021, replacing C-band CXGO (WSR-98A).
Holyrood Eastern Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador 47°19′35″N 53°07′36″W / 47.32644°N 53.12658°W / 47.32644; -53.12658 (CASHR - Holyrood) CASHR S Selex 1700S Holyrood Commissioned on October 13, 2020. Replaced the C-band (98E) CWTP.
King City Southern Ontario Ontario 43°57′50″N 79°34′26″W / 43.96393°N 79.57388°W / 43.96393; -79.57388 (CASKR - King City) CASKR S Selex 1700S King City Radar Commissioned on June 28, 2021 to replace the C-band (98A) CWKR.
Lac Castor Saguenay River Quebec 48°34′33″N 70°40′04″W / 48.57581°N 70.66784°W / 48.57581; -70.66784 (CWMB - Lac Castor) CWMB C 98E Will be replaced by a new Selex 1700S at a new site (likely Mont-Apica) between 2022 and 2023.
Landrienne Amos Quebec 48°33′05″N 77°48′29″W / 48.55136°N 77.80809°W / 48.55136; -77.80809 (CASLA - Landrienne) CASLA S Selex 1700S Landrienne Amos Radar commissioned in October 2019, replacing the previous 98R CXLA C-band radar.
Marble Mountain Western Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador 48°55′49″N 57°50′03″W / 48.93028°N 57.83417°W / 48.93028; -57.83417 (CXME - Marble Mountain) CXME C 98A Marble Mountain A new radar Selex METEOR 1700S is being installed. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022 as CASMM.
Marion Bridge Southeastern Cape Breton County Nova Scotia 45°56′59″N 60°12′19″W / 45.94972°N 60.20521°W / 45.94972; -60.20521 (CASMB - Marion Bridge) CASMB S Selex 1700S Marion Bridge Radar commissioned in October 2019, replacing the previous CXMB C-band radar.
Montreal River Sault Ste Marie Ontario 47°14′52″N 84°35′47″W / 47.24773°N 84.59652°W / 47.24773; -84.59652 (CASMR - Montreal River) CASMR S Selex 1700S Montreal River Radar commissioned in November 2019, replacing the previous 98E WGJ C-band radar.
Mount Silver Star Vernon British Columbia 50°22′10″N 119°03′52″W / 50.36950°N 119.06436°W / 50.36950; -119.06436 (CXSS - Mt-Silver Star) CXSS C 98A Silver Star
Prince George Northern B.C. British Columbia 53°36′47″N 122°57′16″W / 53.61308°N 122.95441°W / 53.61308; -122.95441 (CXPG - Prince George) CXPG C 98R Prince George
Radisson Saskatoon Saskatchewan 52°31′14″N 107°26′34″W / 52.52048°N 107.44269°W / 52.52048; -107.44269 (CASRA - Radisson) CASRA S Selex 1700S Radisson Radar commissioned in February 2018, replacing CXRA, a C-band radar.
Southwest of Quebec City Quebec 46°26′58″N 71°54′50″W / 46.449556°N 71.913831°W / 46.449556; -71.913831 (CASSF - Ste-Françoise/Villeroy) CASSF S Selex 1700S Sainte-Françoise Commissioned on November 2020, replacing the C-Band CWVY with no change of site but change of name from Villeroy to Sainte-Françoise, a closer geographical point.
Schuler Medicine Hat Alberta 50°18′45″N 110°11′44″W / 50.31250°N 110.19556°W / 50.31250; -110.19556 (CASSU - Schuler) CASSU S Selex 1700S Schuler Replacement the C-Band CXBU on September 8, 2020.
Smooth Rock Falls Northeastern Ontario Ontario 49°16′53″N 81°47′39″W / 49.28146°N 81.79406°W / 49.28146; -81.79406 (CASRF - Smooth Rock Falls) CASRF S Selex 1700S Smooth Rock Falls (The S in CASRF is for S-Band) Initially known as Timmins CXTI, then Northeast Ontario. Finally Smooth Rock Falls with the dual polarization upgrade Commissioned in 2018/10. [1]
Spirit River Grande Prairie Alberta 55°41′42″N 119°13′50″W / 55.69494°N 119.23043°W / 55.69494; -119.23043 (CASSR - Spirit River Weather Radar) CASSR S Selex 1700S Spirit River This radar was replaced in 2018 and commissioned in Feb 2019 replacing CWWW a C-band radar that had been in operation since 2001/10
Strathmore Calgary Alberta 51°12′22″N 113°23′58″W / 51.20613°N 113.39937°W / 51.20613; -113.39937 (CASSM - Strathmore) CASSM S Selex 1700S Strathmore Radar commissioned in November 2019, replacing the previous 98A (XSM) C-band radar. A temporary mobile X-band radar was deployed during the upgrade.
Superior West Lasseter Lake Ontario 48°51′13″N 89°07′17″W / 48.85352°N 89.12150°W / 48.85352; -89.12150 (CXNI - Lasseter Lake) CXNI C 98E Nipigon
Val d'Irène Lower St. Lawrence Quebec 48°28′49″N 67°36′04″W / 48.48028°N 67.60111°W / 48.48028; -67.60111 (CASVD - Val d'Irène) CASVD S Selex 1700S Val d'Irène Replaced the C-Band CAXM (98A) radar. Commissioned on November 2, 2020.
Woodlands Winnipeg Manitoba 50°09′14″N 97°46′42″W / 50.15389°N 97.77833°W / 50.15389; -97.77833 (CASWL - Woodlands) CASWL S Selex 1700S Woodlands Replaced the C-band (98A) CXWL on October 19, 2020.[20] A temporary mobile X-band radar was deployed at St. Andrews Airport during the upgrade.[21]
Decommissioned sites of the Canadian Weather Radar Network
Site Location Province Coordinates ID/call sign Band Type Callsign meaning Notes
Jimmy Lake NW Saskatchewan/NE Alberta Saskatchewan 54°54′47″N 109°57′36″W / 54.91319°N 109.95992°W / 54.91319; -109.95992 (CWHN - Jimmy Lake) CWHN C 98E Replaced by a new Selex 1700S southeast of Cold Lake (ID CASCL - 54°22′43″N 110°03′45″W / 54.3785°N 110.0625°W / 54.3785; -110.0625 (CASCL - Cold Lake)) since October 27, 2021 and decommissioned since January 20, 2022.
McGill Montreal Quebec 45°25′27″N 73°56′14″W / 45.42416°N 73.93735°W / 45.42416; -73.93735 (CWMN - McGill) CWMN S -- Montreal commissioned September 1968, decommissioned October 3, 2018, and replaced by the Blainville radar.[16]
Mount Sicker Victoria British Columbia 48°51′40″N 123°45′24″W / 48.86099°N 123.75654°W / 48.86099; -123.75654 (CXSI - Mt-Sicker) CXSI C 98A Mount Sicker Suffered major hardware failure in November 2017, decommissioned on December 6, 2018. S-band replacement to be installed between 2021 and 2023 on an alternate site.[22][23]

See also[edit]

Related article[edit]


  • Laramée, Sylvain; Li, Qian; Wong, Pat; Savard, Sylvain; Leibiuk, Peter; Brady, Steven; Czepita, Rick; Nasr, Hamid; Benko, Todd; Romaniuk, Michael; Abt, Mark; Wong, Ingrid (October 7, 2019). "Replacement of the Canadian Weather Radar Network". CMOS Bulletin. Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. 47 (5). Retrieved May 8, 2020.


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  16. ^ a b "Le Québec reçoit son premier radar météorologique à la fine pointe de la technologie". La Nouvelle Union (in French). October 16, 2018. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
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  19. ^ Grimes (October 31, 2020). "NOCN01 CWAO 311823". Genot. Meteorological Service of Canada. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  20. ^ Campbell (October 15, 2020). "NOCN01 CWAO 231342". Genot. Meteorological Service of Canada. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  21. ^ Campbell (May 26, 2020). "NOCN01 CWAO 312040". Genot. Meteorological Service of Canada. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
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  23. ^ Grimes (December 6, 2020). "NOCN01 CWAO 311434". Genot. Meteorological Service of Canada. Retrieved 2020-12-29.

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML