Canadian marine warning program

Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service is responsible for providing Canadians with a marine warning service that ensures the safety and security of life, shipping, and protection of the natural environment. Our Marine Warning Program is intended to provide an effective warning service for hazardous meteorological and sea state conditions. The program is active year-round, except in regions where shipping is not possible due to prevailing ice conditions.

Environment Canada’s Marine Warning Program consists of two main elements:  Watches and Warnings. Watches and Warnings are issued for a variety of potentially hazardous conditions that could occur, or are expected to occur, in the marine environment during the valid period of the marine forecast. 

Marine Watches are designed to alert mariners to the possibility that marine weather conditions may develop locally which could pose a hazard and negatively impact marine operations. Marine watches are usually issued for events where there is uncertainty about the area affected or the timing of the event. When a watch is issued, mariners in the area should be prepared to take appropriate action to ensure their safety and security. For example, mariners should review appropriate emergency plans, identify safe passage to the nearest sheltered harbour, maintain vigilance, and monitor the marine forecast for further updates or warnings.

Marine Warnings are designed to alert mariners to hazardous marine weather conditions that have already developed, or are forecast to develop, either locally or throughout the entire marine area under the warning. When a warning is issued it is time to put your emergency plan into action, such as making for safe harbour. Mariners should maintain vigilance and monitor the marine forecast for further updates or warnings.

Environment Canada's Marine Warning Program

Warnings and watches issued by
Environment Canada's Marine Warning Program
Category Sub-category Warnings Watches
Freezing Spray
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Another type of message used to describe marine weather conditions of interest or concern to mariners is the Marine Weather Statement. This statement may be issued when the forecast marine weather conditions are unusual or when there is potential for the development of hazardous marine weather conditions. These statements can describe non-severe, but potentially hazardous conditions, as well as other information about a variety of conditions not covered by warnings or routine forecasts.

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