Weatheradio Canada

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Weatheradio Canada
Environment Canada Logo.svg
Broadcast area Canada
Frequency 162.4 - 162.55 MHz
Format Weather radio
Owner Environment 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 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 a synthesized voice. The technology employed to produce the voice is the StarCaster text-to-speech system, which uses concatenative synthesis.

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

Programing[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. You need a special receiver capable of receiving the marine frequency, which varies by province. Environment Canada used to broadcast a full marine forecast which included marine alerts, that has since changed between 2007 and 2009. Weather broadcasts also include the U.V index for the forecasted day, and for the following day during the U.V index season. The index goes from 1 (low) to 10 (extreme).

English

Weather information broadcast in English 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 1990's 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)

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 1990's 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)

Alert Test

Environment Canada conducts a Required Weekly Test (RWT) each Wednesday, this normally is done between 11:50AM and 12:00PM. This test is to ensure your weather radio device is in working order. Environment Canada also conducts a Required Monthly Test (RMT), which broadcasts each first Wednesday of the month. This RMT test occurs after the Required Weekly Test (RWT) between 12:00PM and 1:00PM local time. These tests are conducted using the S.A.M.E bursts, and does not contain the 1050 Hz tone heard in severe weather broadcasts.

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.[4] 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, as shown in many YouTube EAS videos.

Common Environment Canada Alerts (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 Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning SVR Issued when a thunderstorm produces hail 1 inch (25 mm) or larger in diameter and/or winds which equal or exceed 58 miles per hour (93 km/h). Severe thunderstorms can result in the loss of life and/or property. Information in this warning includes: where the storm is, what locations will be affected, and the primary threat(s) associated with the storm. Tornadoes can also and do develop in severe thunderstorms without the issuance of a tornado warning.
Wind Warning HWW Issued when forecasted winds are expected to gust to 90 km/h. This alert shows as a HIGH WIND WARNING on weather radios with the display feature.
Blizzard Warning BZW A warning that sustained winds or frequent gusts of 30 kn (35 mph or 56 km/h) or higher and considerable falling and/or blowing snow reducing visibilities to 14 mile (0.40 km) or less are expected in a specified area. A blizzard warning can remain in effect when snowfall ends but a combination of strong winds and blowing snow continue, even though the winter storm itself may have exited the region (also automatically indicates a Winter Storm Warning for Heavy Snow and Blowing Snow).
Tropical Storm Watch TRA An announcement for specific areas that tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Warning TRW A warning that sustained winds within the range of 34 to 63 kn (39 to 73 mph or 63 to 117 km/h) associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in a specified area within 36 hours or less.
Hurricane Watch HUA An announcement for specific areas that hurricane conditions are possible, and tropical storm conditions are possible within 48 hours. A Hurricane Watch is issued for the Atlantic Provinces, but can be issued for British Columbia if warranted.
Hurricane Warning HUW A warning that sustained winds 64 kn (74 mph or 118 km/h) or higher associated with a hurricane are expected, and tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours in a specified area. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force. A Hurricane Warning is issued for the Atlantic Provinces, but can be issued for British Columbia if warranted.
Winter Storm Watch HUA Means locations under this watch should monitor local weather forecasts, as there is a potential of a winter storm consisting of one or more of these: Snow, Rain, Freezing Rain. It's not wise to only refer to the display feature on a weather radio, as a Freezing Rain Watch also displays as a Winter Storm Warning.
Winter Storm Warning HUA Means a significant weather system is expected within the warning area. This alert may contain one or more of these weather types: Snow, Rain, Freezing Rain. It's not wise to only refer to the display feature on a weather radio, as a Freezing Rain Warning also displays as a Winter Storm Warning.

Reception[edit]

Most weather radio users are pleased with the available service across the country (where available). Some are displeased with the lack of available information on the broadcast. Most forecasts and alerts are too basic, and does not offer specific information to where a Tornado might be located, or what times a specific area might see a thunderstorm risk. Environment Canada does not indicate when an alert is scheduled to expire, though that information is sent to weather radios capable of actually seeing when said event expires. Weatheradio Canada does not broadcast Special Weather Statements on their broadcast service, but is offered via the website. Environment Canada stated that they are planning on implementing this feature, though this could several years to implement. So weather radio users who might be away from their personal computer, won't know there is a Special Weather Statement, unless they visit the Environment Canada website or watch The Weather Network. The Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) does not provide tropical cyclone forecasts on the Weatheradio Canada, but is heard on NOAA Weather Radio in states along the Atlantic Coast, and the Gulf of Mexico. The CHC does not inform weatheradio listeners specific information on a tropical cyclone name, location, wind speed, category, or the potential impact on Canada as is already available to NOAA Weather Radio listeners (Excluding the Canadian land impact). Though the CHC does broadcast Tropical Storm Watch, Tropical Storm Warning, Hurricane Watch, Hurricane Warning as of 2004 post Hurricane Juan.

Technical Problems[edit]

- In February 2014 around 12:00PM ADT, weather radios in the XLK473 (Halifax, NS) area received the PRACTICE DEMO alert, which then broadcast the ADVISORY for over an hour. Previously the service kept issuing a RAINFALL WARNING using the 1050 Hz tone. This occurred during the early afternoon period. Requests to Environment Canada for the cause, was not returned. A video of this was uploaded on YouTube titled "Weather Radio Canada Malfunction".[5]

- In March 2015 at 11:00AM, Environment Canada issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the Province of Nova Scotia. Typically the S.A.M.E burst is issued once, followed by the warning as is normally broadcast on the service. Though this time the service kept issuing the S.A.M.E burst over and over, the announcement of a severe weather warning played, then cut off again followed by repeated S.A.M.E bursts.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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