Canada’s modernized weather-radar network

On February 28, 2017, The Government of Canada announced the replacement of its weather-radar network. At that time, Canada’s radar network consisted of a mix of older radars including two radars operated in partnership with the Department of National Defence and one owned by McGill University. A contract was awarded to buy and install a total of 32 new radars across the country to replace the old network, as well as a new training radar, which helps train technologists and engineers on how to maintain the radar systems. This includes the addition of a radar in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta, expanding Canada’s operational radar network as well as a non-operational radar dedicated to testing and training. The new S-band dual polarization radars have been completed and fully integrated into the forecasting process as of August 2023.

Locations of Canadian weather radar sites
Locations of Canadian weather radar sites 

Map of Canada displaying all the locations of all the existing Canadian weather-radar sites:

  • Halfmoon Peak (Sunshine Coast)
  • Aldergrove (near Vancouver)
  • Prince George
  • Silver Star Mountain (near Vernon)
  • Bethune (near Regina)
  • Carvel (near Edmonton)
  • Foxwarren (near Brandon)
  • Cold Lake
  • Radisson (near Saskatoon)
  • Schuler (near Medicine Hat)
  • Spirit River (near Grande Prairie)
  • Fort McMurray
  • Strathmore (near Calgary)
  • Woodlands (near Winnipeg)
  • Britt (near Sudbury)
  • Dryden
  • Exeter (near London)
  • Franktown (near Ottawa)
  • King City (near Toronto)
  • Montreal River (near Sault Ste Marie)
  • Smooth Rock Falls (near Timmins)
  • Shuniah (near Thunder Bay)
  • Mont Apica (near Saguenay)
  • Landrienne (near Rouyn-Noranda)
  • Blainville (near Montréal)
  • Val d'Irène (near Mont Joli)
  • Sainte Francoise (near Trois-Rivières)
  • Chipman (near Fredericton)
  • Gore (near Halifax)
  • Marion Bridge (near Sydney)
  • Holyrood (near St. John's)
  • Marble Mountain (near Corner Brook)
S-band deployment schedule
Order Site name (Radar Identifier) Construction timeframe Replacement status Completion date
01 Radisson, SK (CASRA)
Oct 2017 – Feb 2018 Completed Feb 7, 2018
02 Blainville, QC (CASBV) Jun – Sep 2018 Completed Sep 27, 2018
03 Foxwarren, MB (CASFW) Jun – Sep 2018 Completed Sep 27, 2018
04 Smooth Rock Falls (Timmins), ON (CASRF) Aug – Oct 2018 Completed Nov 14, 2018
05 Spirit River, AB (CASSR) Jun 2018 – Mar 2019 Completed Feb 22, 2019
06 Bethune, SK (CASBE) May – Sep 2019 Completed Aug 9, 2019
07 Exeter, ON (CASET) May – Nov 2019 Completed Aug 9, 2019
08 Marion Bridge, NS (CASMB) Jun – Oct 2019 Completed Oct 18, 2019
09 Chipman, NB (CASCM) Jun – Oct 2019 Completed Oct 9, 2019
10 Landrienne, QC (CASLA) Jun – Oct 2019 Completed Oct 31, 2019
11 Montreal River Harbour, ON (CASMR) May – Nov 2019 Completed Nov 29, 2019
12 Strathmore, AB (CASSM) Jul – Nov 2019 Completed Nov 18, 2019
13 Schuler, AB (CASSU) Jun – Aug 2020 Completed
Sep 8, 2020
14 Dryden, ON (CASDR) Jun – Sep 2020 Completed
Sep 3, 2020
15 Holyrood, NL (CASHR) Jun – Oct 2020 Completed Oct 13, 2020
16 Sainte-Francoise (Villeroy), QC (CASSF) May – Nov 2020 Completed Nov 10, 2020
17 Training Radar Egbert, ON (CASTS) Jun – Nov 2020 Completed Nov 20 , 2020*
18 Woodlands, MB (CASWL) Jun – Oct 2020 Completed Oct 19, 2020
19 Val d’Irene, QC (CASVD) Jun – Nov 2020 Completed Nov 2, 2020
20 King, ON (CASKR) Mar – late Jun 2021 Completed
Jun 28, 2021
21 Franktown, ON (CASFT)  May – early Aug 2021 Completed
Aug 3, 2021
22 Gore, NS (CASGO) Late Apr – late Aug 2021 Completed Aug 30, 2021
23 Britt, ON (CASBI) Aug – Nov 2021 Completed
Nov 22, 2021
24
Aldergrove, BC (CASAG) Apr – early Sep 2021 Completed Sep 7, 2021
25 Cold Lake, AB (Jimmy Lake replacement site) (CASCL)
May – Oct 2021
Completed Oct 26, 2021
26 Carvel, AB (CASCV) Late Aug 2021 – Jan 2022 Completed
Jan 26, 2022
27 Marble Mountain, NL (CASMM) Jun 2021 – Oct 2022 Completed Oct 31, 2022
28
Shuniah, ON (Superior West replacement site) (CASSN) May – Jul 2023 Completed July 17, 2023
29 Silver Star, BC (CASSS) Jul – Dec 2022 Completed Dec 14, 2022
30 Mont Apica, QC (Lac Castor replacement site) (CASMA) Sep 2022 – Feb 2023 Completed Feb 6, 2023
31 Fort McMurray, AB (new site) (CASFM) Jun – Sep 2022 Completed Sep 26, 2022
32
Prince George, BC (CASPG) Jun – Dec 2022 Completed Dec 19, 2022
33 Halfmoon Peak, BC (Vancouver Island replacement site) (CASHP) Nov 2022 – Aug 2023 Completed Aug 21, 2023

** Radar is for training and test purposes. Currently not operational/online.

Extended tornado-detection range

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

Dual polarization: a leading-edge technology

These state-of-the-art radars have fully integrated dual-polarization technology, which enables forecasters to better distinguish between rain, snow, hail, and freezing rain as well as better discern the size, shape, and variety of precipitation particles. This technology also enables better identification and removal of non-meteorological targets such as birds, bugs, and debris from the data. As a result, meteorologists can use the data to issue more precise and timely weather watches and warnings for significant weather events, giving Canadians more lead time to take appropriate actions to protect themselves, their family, and their property from the effects of severe weather.

Better serving weather-sensitive industries

Economic sectors sensitive to weather events such as agriculture, natural resources, fisheries, construction, aviation, tourism, transportation, retail, and investors now 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 also allows 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.



New weather radars
New weather radars infographic

New weather radars help meteorologists  better forecast severe weather. An increased Doppler range from 120km to 240km per radar provides extended tornado detection range and allows for better overlap of neighbouring radars in case of an outage. Dual-Polarization technology enables forecasters to better distinguish between rain, snow, hail and freezing rain. These improvements can give Canadians greater lead time to protect themselves from tornadoes and other severe weather and will better serve weather-sensitive industries with higher data quality and consistency to prepare for severe weather events.

Health safety

The new weather radars comply with Health Canada’s Radio frequency exposure limits in all modes of operation. These guidelines are used to establish safe distances for radio frequency exposure to the general public. Compliance has been verified by a third party and was demonstrated to Industry Canada before each radar’s  operating license was granted.

Radar structure

The radar structure is composed of an open lattice steel tower with a 12-metre diameter radome on top. The total height will vary from one site to another depending on the location and surroundings. Generally, the weather radars are about 40 meters high or the equivalent of a 12-storey building.

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Replacement schedule

The first radar to be replaced was installed in fall 2017 at Radisson, Saskatchewan (near Saskatoon) and the other radars were replaced at a rate of two to seven per year through 2023.

Several factors were taken into account to determine the radar replacement order and schedule. This included:

System design and construction plans also influenced the decision-making process. Some radars were relocated to improve coverage or for operational reasons.

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