Environment Canada | New Doppler radars better at detecting severe weather

(Ottawa) From the crest of a small hill less than an hour’s drive from the easternmost point of Newfoundland and Labrador to a fir-covered mountainside just ten kilometers away of the Strait of Georgia, Canada is now equipped with a network of high-powered Doppler radar towers designed to identify and transmit whatever Mother Nature summons.

Every six minutes, Environment Canada’s 32 weather stations scan an area of ​​more than four million square kilometers, using pulses of microwave energy to detect strong winds and the presence of rain, snow, ice or sleet.

This is an area four times larger than that covered by the old network of 31 weather radar stations, which the federal government replaced over the last six years at a cost of 180 million.

“This type of investment saves lives,” said Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault on Friday while visiting the Blainville radar station in Quebec.

He said the systems helped predict the path the tropical storm would take Fiona across Atlantic Canada to within 100 meters.

“This is a first-class radar system to increase our ability to predict the weather, but also to better anticipate extreme weather events and to be able to protect Canadians,” he said.

Each tower is equipped with a white sphere twelve meters in diameter which houses state-of-the-art Doppler equipment. The spheres are installed on steel towers whose height varies from 16.2 meters to 34.4 meters, depending on the topography surrounding them.

Stations are installed throughout the country. In southern Alberta is Schuler Station, located in the prairies just west of Medicine Hat.

An hour north of Kelowna, British Columbia, Silver Star Mountain resort overlooks a neighboring ski resort. It had to be built on an elevated base because the area is very snowy.

Marble Mountain Resort, also located near a ski resort, had to be built very strongly to withstand the relentless winds of western Newfoundland.

“At the cutting edge of technology”

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of storms, including tornadoes, hurricanes and damaging thunderstorms that can sometimes cause flash flooding.

All but one of the new towers replaced existing ones that were more than twenty years old and had become unreliable and obsolete.

The only tower serving a new area was built near Fort McMurray, Alberta, to improve coverage in northern Alberta and northwest Saskatchewan, a region that experiences more than its fair share of weather extremes.

The Aldergrove station in British Columbia was completed just in time to help meteorologists deal with the atmospheric river that devastated the Fraser Valley in the fall of 2021.

Old towers took ten minutes to complete a full scan and could only detect within a 250 kilometer radius. They weren’t powerful enough to scan during a strong storm to see if more rain or ice would arrive.

The new technology provides ten times more data, can better distinguish types of precipitation and can even detect the presence of birds, swarms of insects or tornado debris.

Faster review and more accurate data can help Environment Canada detect hazardous weather conditions and send warnings to Canadians more quickly. This should give Canadians more time to take shelter when severe weather conditions are imminent.

Mr. Guilbeault stipulated that the new systems are “at the cutting edge of technology.”

“In fact, some countries are telling us that they are learning from what we have done and maybe eventually they will copy what Canada has done,” he said.

The system covers almost all of southern Canada, but the North is left out, mainly because the stations require regular road access, reliable electricity and access to high-speed internet to operate.

Environment Canada said most northern communities have a nearby surface weather station and full satellite coverage. They are also covered by the national lightning detection network.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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