Canadian weather radar network

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Canadian weather radar network

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 has a range of 256 km (159 mi) in radius around the site to detect reflectivity, and a range of 128 km (80 mi) for detecting velocity patterns (Doppler effect).


Research in weather radars in Canada began at the end of the Second World War with "Project Stormy Weather".[1] After the war, J.S. Marshall continued at McGill University the work with the "Stormy Weather Group".[2] 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 and are 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.[3] However, McGill radar (at the J. S. Marshall Radar Observatory), while being part of the network, is owned by McGill University. It is a research as well as an operational radar and is 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.

On 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.[4][5] The first radar will be installed in the fall of 2017 in Montreal region to replace the aging McGill radar (WMN), the rest being replaced sequentially over a 7‑year period. An additional radar will be installed in the Lower Athabasca region in Alberta and the contract also contains options to install up to 13 additional radars in the Canadian Weather Radar Network, by March 31, 2023


Villeroy radar, 75 km southwest of Quebec City : tower and radome to the left, transmitter and receiver in the building on the right
Station CXSS at Silver Star Mountain
  • The rest of the network:[3]
    • The upgraded radar have antennas from two manufacturers: Enterprise Electronics Corporation (EEC) and Raytheon.
    • The new radar 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 ungraded 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:[3]

  • 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 is currently the only station that 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.[6]

Modernization project[edit]

Environment Canada received the funding from the Treasury Board in 2011 to undergo a major modernization project called 'WES Renewal' to upgrade to dual polarization all Canadian Radars in two separate five year plans. Complete network stabilization and systemic problems resolution will also be part of this major effort by Environment Canada. The first five years will concentrate on the upgrade of the ten 98A radars to dual polarization. McGill will be upgraded to a new antenna (will either remain S-Band or change to C-Band), but will be operated by Environment Canada in the near future (probably by 2016).[7]

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.[8]

Canadian Weather Radar Network
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 (CWUJ - Aldergrove) CWUJ C 98E
Bethune Regina Saskatchewan 50°34′16″N 105°10′58″W / 50.57108°N 105.18268°W / 50.57108; -105.18268 (CXBE - Bethune) CXBE C 98A Bethune
Britt Georgian Bay Ontario 45°47′35″N 80°32′02″W / 45.79317°N 80.53385°W / 45.79317; -80.53385 (CWBI - Britt) CWBI C 98A Britt
Carvel Edmonton Alberta 53°33′38″N 114°08′42″W / 53.56056°N 114.14495°W / 53.56056; -114.14495 (CWHK - Carvel) CWHK C 98E
Chipman Central New Brunswick New Brunswick 46°13′20″N 65°41′55″W / 46.22222°N 65.69861°W / 46.22222; -65.69861 (CXNC - Chipman) CXNC C 98E New Brunswick Chipman
Dryden Western Ontario Ontario 49°51′30″N 92°47′49″W / 49.85823°N 92.79698°W / 49.85823; -92.79698 (CXDR - Dryden) CXDR C 98E Dryden
Exeter Southwestern Ontario Ontario 43°22′13″N 81°23′03″W / 43.37028°N 81.38417°W / 43.37028; -81.38417 (CWSO - Exeter) CWSO C 98A Southern Ontario
Foxwarren Eastern Saskatchewan/Western Manitoba Manitoba 50°32′56″N 101°05′09″W / 50.54887°N 101.08570°W / 50.54887; -101.08570 (CXFW - Foxwarren) CXFW C 98E Foxwarren
Franktown Eastern Ontario Ontario 45°02′28″N 76°06′58″W / 45.04101°N 76.11617°W / 45.04101; -76.11617 (CXFT - Franktown) CXFT C 98A Franktown
Gore Central Hants County Nova Scotia 45°05′55″N 63°42′16″W / 45.09850°N 63.70433°W / 45.09850; -63.70433 (CXGO - Gore) CXGO C 98A Gore
Holyrood Eastern Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador 47°19′32″N 53°10′43″W / 47.32556°N 53.17861°W / 47.32556; -53.17861 (CWTP - Holyrood) CWTP C 98R
Jimmy Lake NW Saskatchewan/NE Alberta Saskatchewan 54°54′48″N 109°57′19″W / 54.91333°N 109.95528°W / 54.91333; -109.95528 (CWHN - Jimmy Lake) CWHN C 98E
King City Southern Ontario Ontario 43°57′50″N 79°34′26″W / 43.96393°N 79.57388°W / 43.96393; -79.57388 (CWKR - King City) CWKR C 98A King City Radar
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
Landrienne Amos Quebec 48°33′05″N 77°48′29″W / 48.55152°N 77.80815°W / 48.55152; -77.80815 (CXLA - Landrienne) CXLA C 98R Landrienne Amos
Lasseter Lake Superior West 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
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
Marion Bridge Southeastern Cape Breton County Nova Scotia 45°56′58″N 60°12′21″W / 45.94947°N 60.20578°W / 45.94947; -60.20578 (CXMB - Marion Bridge) CXMB C 98E Marion Bridge
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
Montreal River Harbour Sault Ste Marie Ontario 47°14′52″N 84°35′45″W / 47.24778°N 84.59583°W / 47.24778; -84.59583 (CWGJ - Montreal River) CWGJ C 98E
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
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′37″W / 52.52056°N 107.44361°W / 52.52056; -107.44361 (CXRA - Radisson) CXRA C 98E Radisson
Schuler Medicine Hat Alberta 50°18′45″N 110°11′44″W / 50.31250°N 110.19556°W / 50.31250; -110.19556 (CXBU - Schuler) CXBU C 98E Burstall This RADAR was originally planned to be located at Burstall, Saskatchewan.
Spirit River Grande Prairie Alberta 55°41′33″N 119°13′48″W / 55.69250°N 119.23000°W / 55.69250; -119.23000 (CWWW - Spirit River) CWWW C 98E
Strathmore Calgary Alberta 51°12′23″N 113°23′57″W / 51.20628°N 113.39906°W / 51.20628; -113.39906 (CXSM - Strathmore) CXSM C 98A Strathmore
Timmins Northeastern Ontario Ontario 49°16′53″N 81°47′39″W / 49.28146°N 81.79406°W / 49.28146; -81.79406 (CXTI - Timmins) CXTI C 98E Timmins
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 (CXAM - Val d'Irène) CXAM C 98A Amqui
Villeroy Southwest of Quebec City Quebec 46°27′00″N 71°54′55″W / 46.45000°N 71.91528°W / 46.45000; -71.91528 (CWVY - Villeroy) CWVY C 98R Villeroy
Woodlands Winnipeg Manitoba 50°09′14″N 97°46′42″W / 50.15389°N 97.77833°W / 50.15389; -97.77833 (CXWL - Woodlands) CXWL C 98A Woodlands

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Atlas, David. Radar in Meteorology. American Meteorological Society. 
  2. ^ "Stormy Weather Group". McGill University. 2000. Retrieved 2006-06-15. 
  3. ^ a b c Joe, Paul; Steve Lapczak (2002). "Evolution of the Canadian operational radar network" (PDF). Proceedings. 2nd European Conference on Radar in Meteorology and Hydrology (ERAD). Delft, The Netherlands. pp. 370–382. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  4. ^ Environment and Climate Change Canada (February 27, 2017). "The Government of Canada invests to modernize weather-forecasting infrastructure". Press release. Government of Canada. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  5. ^ Environment and Climate Change Canada (February 27, 2017). "Replacing Canada’s weather-radar network". Press release. Government of Canada. Retrieved April 6, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b J. S. Marshall Radar Observatory (2010). "McGill S-band radar". McGill University. Retrieved 2011-09-19. 
  7. ^ Government of Canada (January 25, 2012). "Weather Monitoring Infrastructure". Environnement Canada. Retrieved October 29, 2012. 
  8. ^ "The National Radar Program". Environment Canada. 2004. Retrieved 2006-06-15. 

External links[edit]