The Government of Canada invests to modernize weather-forecasting infrastructure

News Release

February 28, 2017 – Montréal, Quebec – Environment and Climate Change Canada

In a country as large and geographically diverse as Canada, the safety and security of Canadians depend, in part, on the ability of weather and water services as well as on the larger science community to predict severe or unusual weather activity. This investment in radar modernization highlights the Government of Canada’s commitment to protecting Canadians from potentially severe weather events.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, reinforced today the Government’s commitment to protecting Canadians from the effects of severe weather by investing in world-class, state-of-the-art weather-prediction information technology and radar modernization.

An $83‑million contract was signed with Selex ES to buy 20 new radars with the most modern technology available. The first radar will be installed in the fall of 2017, with the rest being replaced sequentially over a 7‑year period. An additional radar will be installed in the Lower Athabasca region in Alberta. The contract also contains options to install up to 13 additional radars in the Canadian Weather Radar Network, by March 31, 2023.

The new weather radars will be located across Canada. They will increase Environment and Climate Change Canada’s ability to anticipate severe weather and will provide greater lead time for Canadians to take action when severe weather, such as tornadoes, strikes.  

Weather information from the radars will also be used in almost every sector of the economy, including health sciences, environmental management, agriculture, and transportation.

The second contract was awarded this past May to IBM Canada Ltd. to design, build, renew, and host a state-of-the-art, high-performance computing (HPC) solution, in the area of Montreal, Quebec. The 8.5-year contract is worth more than $430 million. It will allow for cutting-edge weather and climate models.

Once installed, the new HPC solution will support this meteorological work on a high availability 24/7 basis, and it will be operated by a dedicated team of Shared Services Canada (SSC) professionals.

The HPC solution is expected to be fully installed and functional by summer 2017.

The combined use of the new radars and the recently acquired supercomputer will give Canadians more lead time to take appropriate actions to protect themselves, their family, and their property from the effects of severe weather.


“This important investment will help us modernize Canada’s weather-service infrastructure and make sure our meteorologists can provide the fastest and most accurate weather forecasts.  This is essential to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians. It is also a central service for our economic prosperity in the face of changing weather and environmental conditions.”

– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“A modern and reliable weather-forecasting system is essential to support our country’s growing population and expanding infrastructure. These contract awards will not only create middle-class jobs and strengthen our weather-prediction infrastructure but will also better protect Canadians from potentially severe weather. This is another example of a Government of Canada procurement working for the benefit of Canadians.”

– The Honourable Judy Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Quick Facts

  • With this investment, Canadians and economic sectors sensitive to weather events will have access to more accurate and reliable weather forecasts and warnings, helping them make more informed decisions to reduce risks to their personal safety in their everyday life.

    Examples include:

  • Increased ability for Municipalities to better plan for severe weather impacts such as prepositioning snow plows during a snow storm to decrease the impact on traffic.
  • Better support for outdoor events or festival organisers in their decision to cancel or not an event to ensure the public remains safe.
  • Spotting damaging hail with enough lead time for people or dealerships to move/cover their cars.
  • Increased lead time for provinces and municipalities to prepare for ice storms, storm surges associated with hurricanes, floods or any severe weather events by ensuring emergencies crews are available and well positioned to intervene rapidly and minimise the impact on the population.
  • Safer marine activities and more precise search and rescue missions.
  • Improved air traffic safety as weather forecasts are used to help routing planes around severe weather. More accurate weather forecasts will also have a direct impact on airline operation costs on a daily basis; they can better determine planes trajectories, the number of planes in ‎corridors, and the required space between them.

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Caitlin Workman
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)

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