The federal government says Canadians will benefit from “more accurate and timely” weather forecasts thanks to $134 million in funding for Environment Canada.
“Through our government’s investment in our critical weather monitoring infrastructure and innovative technologies, communities and business sectors across the country will have access to more timely and accurate weather information based on the most modern technology available,” said Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, as she announced the funding in Calgary on Thursday.
$107.5 million has been committed to upgrading the agency’s weather monitoring systems, including the following:
- Upgrades to 150 existing land-based weather and climate monitoring stations, as well as 125 existing marine monitoring stations.
- Add 40 land-based weather and climate monitoring stations to fill existing observational gaps and improve coverage, particularly in growing population centres.
- Aging radar equipment will be replaced, adding dual polarization technology, which Environment Canada says is more accurate in representing types of precipitation, including snow, hail, rain and freezing rain.
- Technology upgrades for the upper air monitoring network — 31 stations collect upper air data from radiosonde devices launched into the atmosphere twice daily by weather balloon.
Another $26.5 million is going toward improving warning and forecasting systems:
- Weather alerts issued by Environment Canada will span a broader range of weather phenomenon and time scales, from imminent, life-threatening severe thunderstorms and tornadoes requiring immediate response, to week-ahead warnings of disruptive blizzards or dangerous heat waves.
- Weather forecast information will be delivered to Canadians in more intuitive, understandable, visual and adaptable formats through modern telecommunications technology and social media.
- By augmenting the number of warning preparedness meteorologists, Environment Canada will increase its capacity to interact seamlessly with emergency management officials at all levels (federal, provincial and municipal) with a focus on getting timely weather information to these organizations.
Environment Canada currently bases its forecasts on observations from 31 weather radars, 84 lightning detection sensors, 125 fixed buoys and automatic marine stations installed on ships, 31 stations for launching balloon-borne observations of the upper atmosphere, satellite data, and approximately 1200 surface weather and climate stations.