Replacing Canada’s weather-radar network

Backgrounder

Canada’s weather-radar network has 31 radars. Most radars are located along the southern border of the country.

Radars: an essential tool for short-term forecasts

Environment and Climate Change Canada uses many tools to forecast Canada’s weather. By providing information updates every 10 minutes, radars are a key element to forecasting short-term severe weather like hurricanes, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and snow squalls.

Canada’s weather-radar network has 31 radars, including 2 radars operated in partnership with the Department of National Defence and 1 owned by McGill University. Most radars are located along the southern border of the country, and they vary in type and capacity.

A new state-of-the-art radar network

Replacing the aging network with new, modern weather radars will ensure that Canadians are better informed on changing weather, water, and climate conditions and that they have more lead time to take appropriate actions to protect themselves, their family, and their property from the effects of severe weather.

Dual polarization: a leading-edge technology

These state-of-the-art radars will have fully integrated dual-polarization technology, which will enable forecasters to better detect tornadoes and to distinguish between rain, snow, hail, and freezing rain. In addition, forecasters will be able to better discern the size, shape, and variety of not only precipitation particles but also non-precipitation particles like birds, bugs, and debris. As a result, they will issue more precise and timely weather watches and warnings for these significant events.

Extended tornado-detection range

The new radars will also have an extended severe-weather detection range to cover more of Canada, increasing the Doppler range to 240 kilometres per radar from the current 120 kilometres. Doubling the Doppler range will give Canadians greater lead time to protect themselves and their families from tornadoes and other severe weather. Extending Doppler coverage of the weather-radar network will also allow for better overlap of neighbouring radars in case of an outage.

Better serving weather-sensitive industries

Economic sectors sensitive to weather events such as agriculture, natural resources, fisheries, construction, aviation, tourism, transportation, retail, and investors will benefit from higher data quality and consistency for severe-weather events as weather information is an important part of their strategic planning. For example, weather-radar imagery is used to help in safely routing planes around severe weather.

The improved weather-data quality will also allow for more effective use of the information in other areas, such as water management, as radar images are used to understand the effects of precipitation on drainage basins, in particular in support of flood forecasting by provinces.

Details of the radar contract can be found on Public Works and Government Services Canada’s Buy and Sell site.

 


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