WEATHER RADIO LISTENERS NEWSLETTER ISSUE 4 – AUGUST 4 , 2012
Welcome to the fourth issue of the Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter. In this issue, we are very delighted to announce another vehicle to further spread the word about the newsletter. We have some words on: ways to access Weather Radio broadcasts without a Weather Radio, more introductions to our members, Weather Radio reviews, helpful hints and much more. Please read on.
We are very pleased to announce a new net on Ham Radio in conjunction with the newsletter itself. It is called “THE WEATHER RADIO LISTENERS NEWSLETTER NET” and it is being held on Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM Eastern. It is on IRLP (INTERNET RADIO LINKING PROJECT) on the Ontario Public Service Reflector 9034. It has been a success with the first (2) months taking in a total of (143) checkins and the complete results will appear later in the newsletter.
Hello, this is your friendly author Gord, with an important proposal to any of you who are reading this newsletter; whether you are in Ontario or anywhere else in Canada. I have been working with the nice people at Weatheradio Canada in order to put this newsletter together. In particular, I have been relying on Denis Paquette, who is the National Manager of Weatheradio Canada and others within The Meteorological Service of Canada and NOAA to help me out with the newsletter when I need two confirm anything I’m not 100 percent sure of. This time, we will need your help!
What we are looking for is for (2) volunteers monitoring every Weatheradio transmitter across the country, so we can have someone who can verify when we have issues with the network. We also need you to confirm whether the weekly test has happened as it should, or if there is a bug in the system. We appreciate all the work are current volunteers are doing, but the majority of them live in Ontario, with a few people outside the province; thus we need to build up a cross country base of volunteers. .
If you are willing to volunteer, please contact me and I will let Denis know to put you on the list. There are other plans in the works and we will release that information when things are more concrete. Many thanks in advance.
In the last issues, we talked about the channel allocations of the Weather Radio frequencies, depending on the type of receiver you have. We also discussed where to hear weather information outside the VHF Weather Radio channels, including the marine WX channels and the VHF air craft band.
In this issue, we assume that you don’t have a Weather Radio, or aren’t actively looking to buy one right now, however you want to hear more information than the radio or television will give you.
If you didn’t have a receiver that could hear the weather channels you could listen to the audio from Weatheradio Canada on TV. Years ago, you could listen to Weatheradio Canada in Toronto on the TV while watching the King City radar on the screen, however it is currently no longer on the air.
If you don’t have a radio that receives the (7) weather channels and you do not live in an area, (where they have a transmitter on the am or fm broadcast band), you can get your weather on the phone. There are phone numbers throughout North America you can call that give you the weather information you need.
These are known as ATADS or automated telephone answering devices. The phone numbers in Canada are not widely available in print and there are many regions in Canada without both an ATAD and Weatheradio Canada service such as far Northern Ontario.
If you want to hear live streaming audio, you can hear it on the NWS website in the “stations with on line audio” link. You can also go to audiostream.wunderground.com and you can hear it there as well. If you want to hear Canadian transmitters: Winnipeg and Collingwood are among those that are currently available on this site.
If you live in the United States, you can call your local weather office and most of them have recorded information and if not, there are alternate phone numbers to call for a recording.
The ATAD is really a legacy service and it is being all but left behind by SMARTPHONES and other mobile devices, which allow people to get weather information faster. There are even IPhone APS that you can download in order to hear live streaming audio from a Weather Radio transmitter and you can even program your SAME code into your IPhone to make it a mini Weather Radio.
In Canada, the weather office has a mobile site designed to give you faster access with a SMARTPHONE at http://m.weatheroffice.gc.ca .
If you live in an area with no way of hearing the weather broadcast and you don’t even have a Smartphone, you can go to the Weather Office website at http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca. Helpful tip: if you are using a screen reader, your best bet to get information is to go to the “text only” links for forecasts, warnings or current weather conditions.
I live in Southern Ontario near the Canadian border and I listen to my local Canadian Weatheradio station, and I can also hear the station in Buffalo, New York. I have noticed that I only hear certain watches or warnings broadcasted with a SAME message and the 1050 Hz tone. Why is that? And which alerts should I listen for?
Only the most imminent life and property threatening hazards are broadcast with the SAME signal and 1050 Hertz warning tone. These are warnings where the public needs to take immediate action to protect themselves and their property.
The following messages are the ones that are alerted: Tornado Warning TOR Severe Thunderstorm Warning SVR Flash Flood Warning FFW Tornado Watch TOA Severe Thunderstorm Watch SVA National Emergency EAN Special Marine Warnings SMW Local non-weather Civil Emergency Message CEM Winter Storm Warnings WSW High Winds Warnings HWW
The last two, Winter Storm Warnings and High Wind Warnings are generally only alerted for the initial issuance. Also, unless the threat is imminent, the alert is “delayed” until the daylight hours. (People don’t generally like to be awakened in the middle of the night to learn a snowstorm is going to occur later in the afternoon.
Hope that answers your question. Thanks for listening!
Judith Levan – Warning Coordination Meteorologist for National Weather Service in Buffalo, NY
Last summer on July 21st there was a generic weather warning issued for most of the province of Ontario, due to the intense heat with temperatures forecasted to climb to 39 degrees C. without the humidex. Why was it issued in Ontario, when it is normally issued in Quebec?
The special heat “warning” issued last year was due to a number of factors…concerns of very high humidex readings, the fact that the event had been going on for a few days and also that Quebec (which has a different system for dealing with heat alerts) had a “high heat warning” in effect…so there was a desire for some form of consistency between Ontario and Quebec. However, the differences between the way Quebec handles these episodes and how we do continues…more work needs to be done on the national stage to develop a more consistent system…as well as developing meaningful criteria that are regionally specific (i.e. different criteria for Windsor than for Winnipeg when it comes to heat / humidity like we currently do for wind chill). This work is ongoing but we are not likely going to see much change for the next few years.
Geoff Coulson – Warning Preparedness Meteorologist for Ontario
Have there ever been any severe thunderstorm watches or warnings issued in winter in Canada?
Yes! There have been a few but they are rare! One notable event took place on January 7th, 1989, when a warm moist air mass from the US was accompanied by a sharp cold front. The warm front pushed temperatures to as high as 12 degrees Celsius in Windsor Ontario over night. There were a number of warnings issued throughout January 7 and 8, across the province including: heavy snowfall warning, winter storm warning, blizzard warning and a freezing rain warning. The freezing rain warning was the turning point in the event and it was issued at 8:15 PM for Parry Sound Muskoka and surrounding regions. A portion of the text says: “this freezing rain may be heavy at times and could be accompanied by thunder and lightning.” The reason for this was that temperatures were working their way up to the freezing mark and then they would fall shortly after.
Mean while, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued at 10:50 PM for Southwestern Ontario and Huron-Perth, as well as Lakes Erie, Huron, and St Clair. It was ended at 2:15 AM on Sunday January 8th.
If you want to find out more information about past weather in Canada you can go to http://www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca
As a point of interest, if you were listening to Weatheradio Canada that evening and the following morning you would have heard the voices of Tyrone Sutherland and Phil Chadwick reading out the information on the broadcast. Most of us who are CANWARN trained know that Phil has been a long time CANWARN instructor and he has retired in 2011. If you would like to know what he is up to, you can go to his blog at philtheforecaster.blogspot.com.
Introducing VA3KIA Marlene
Hi there, I am a Ham Radio Operator and my call sign is VA3KIA. I am CANWARN trained, and a member of the Weather Radio Newsletter group headed by Gord VA3WXA. I live in the HALIBURTON Highlands, specifically Carnarvon 19 km north of Minden. Unfortunately I am unable to receive the Halliburton area weather report on my weather radio. The channel I receive clearly is 162.400 out of Orillia. Gord has informed me that it used to have my local area in the broadcast cycle, however the closest it gets to me is the northern part of Kawartha Lakes.
I spoke with Denis Paquette and he has informed me that I should be hearing the Algonquin Pk transmitter the strongest. He also asked me to travel around my area and on the lake with my portable radio. In doing so I went half way to Dorset which put me around 25 to 30 km from the Algonquin park entrance at HWY #35 and #60. I did get the Algonquin transmitter but it was so weak it kept cutting out. I do not know what power outage they have but I don’t think it is much. I get a stronger signal in my home to Orillia and Barrie and cannot even receive a faint weather transmission from the Algonquin machine. I went out on the lake and the same was true.
At our Minden Amateur Radio club meeting which is held every Friday morning I raised the issue of weather radios, the new net on Saturday evenings and the trouble I have been having in reaching the Algonquin transmitter. I got an earful from members who all have had weather radios and for years have talked to Environment Canada about this difficulty and been told something would be done but nothing has so they have given up and their radios are collecting dust. However when I mentioned about the net and speaking with Gord and Denis they said maybe they should get their radios out of moth balls “MAYBE”. One of our long time members was given an award from Environment Canada for his service of recording and tracking weather in our area visually and manually years ago. His name is Phil Graham. A documentary was made of him as well. That was when many members took hope in Environment Canada’s promise to do something, but nothing has changed.
I wish that either Halliburton could be included in the Orillia transmitters broadcast cycle or if at all possible, increase the power of the Algonquin PK transmitter. It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Gord for allowing me to be a part of the group.
Best regards, Marlene
THE WATCHDOG REPORT
If you hear anything that doesn’t sound right on your local Weather Radio transmitter, there are various ways to report a problem that depend on where you live. If you live in The United States, you can call 1-888-697-7263. You can email NOAA at email@example.com, or on the web at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr. If you live in Canada, you can call 1-877-789-7733. You can email the Meteorological Service of Canada at ECWeather-Meteo@ec.gc.ca, or email the National Weatheradio Canada Team at Wxradio@ec.gc.ca. You can also go on the web at http://www.ec.gc.ca/weatheradio.
Thursday May 17th, the network in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces had stopped updating the first scheduled public and marine forecasts for the day after they were issued. However, the hourly inland and marine roundup continued as if nothing was wrong.
Ops from Alberta and BC were working on it. Everything slowly was updated by Friday May 18th. However, the Collingwood (XMJ316) and Orillia (VBV562) transmitters lost their ID and it was replaced by a series of beeps. The problem was taken care of on Tuesday May 22nd with a reset of the configuration.
Wednesday May 23rd, the weekly test was delayed by an hour for all the transmitters across Ontario.
“Oh, c’mon… We like to challenge people. Sadly our resident main computer server had a problem last week, and the switched to the backup server. Lost in the transition were the scheduling settings so it forgot about the spring time change. And sent out the SAME test messages one hour later. And yes, the entire province was affected.”
Peter Staples – Dissemination – Ontario Region
Friday May 25th at 7:16 PM, the St. Catharines Ontario transmitter (VAD320) has gone into watchdog mode and it was fully restored starting with the 8:00 AM hourly inland and marine updates. The public and marine forecasts were updated as they were issued. This is also how things were updated before the Victoria Day long weekend and it was all put on dial-up.
Friday June 1st, St. Catharines has gone back into watchdog mode and the ATAD has become constantly busy so nobody can get through, and they both returned to life unexpectedly, some time on Sunday June 3rd.
It is currently on dial-up until someone can go to the transmitter site to reset it back to ftp. There has been no explanation as to why it has come back.
Saturday June 9th at 12:50 AM, it was reported that the Normindale machine (VFI621) had gone into watchdog mode.
“Downsview is aware and is working on it.” 73, Randy Mawson VE3TRW.
It was restored at 9:13 AM on Monday June 11th.
Tuesday June 12th, the ATADS and possibly the entire Weatheradio Canada network in British Columbia stopped updating the hourly reports and forecasts at 1:00 PM. Shortly after the report was filed, the ATADS and Weatheradio were back on track.
“Thanks for notifying us, I received your email while out to dinner. Fred (on holidays) came in to fix it before I got back.”
Anne McCarthy (CLIENT SERVICES) British Columbia!
Saturday July 7th at 9:32 AM, it was reported that the Windsor Ontario ATADS and Weatheradio transmitters had a problem, in that the public forecasts weren’t updated since 3:30 PM on Friday July 6th. However, everything else was updating normally. The public forecasts were updated shortly there-after, as reported by Bob Gammon at 10:46 AM.
Saturday July 7th at 10:03 AM, it was reported that the SAME alarm didn’t sound on the Toronto Weatheradio transmitter, when a severe thunderstorm warning was issued at 9:01 AM. This report was filed, due to complaints from Hamilton CANWARN volunteers. On a slightly unrelated note, the warnings seemed to be issued for severe thunderstorms after the severe weather had come and gone throughout the city of Hamilton and its CANWARN area.
Thursday July 26th at 2:51 AM, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Southern Niagara Region but the SAME alarm didn’t sound to trigger SAME radios, but the 1050 Hz tone sounded to trigger basic tone alert receivers.
PROGRAMMING YOUR WEATHER RADIO PART 3 OF 3
In the last two issues we discussed the differences between the basic tone alert radios and the new SAME radios. We even took a look at two models that have been on the market for years in North America and gave you a brief outline of their features and highlights.
In this issue, we will talk about SAME radios that are not true SAME radios to most listeners, as well as talking about the latest handheld models out there. We will even touch on scanners, which have SAME WEATHER ALERT as part of their features.
There are those who say that a SAME radio must not only give you the option of localizing the alerts the radio receives to your local area, but it must also allow you to select the weather or non-weather events you want to trigger your unit. However, there are models of SAME WX radio that don’t allow you to block unwanted alerts and this causes those people either to: leave them on the shelf and refuse to buy them, or leave them turned off at night or permanently.
The Midland WR-100B desktop model falls into this category. It doesn’t allow for event blocking and it doesn’t sound the test alerts or the Administrative message. It doesn’t allow you to change the volume of the siren when it goes off during an alert message. On the other hand, Midland has done some people a favor by eliminating the audible test so it wouldn’t give the impression of an actual alert. The WR-120 is similar in physical size as the WR-100B, but there are some differences in the menus and the layout.
It gives you the option of toggling on or off the weekly test and it allows you to silence the key beeps. Most importantly, it allows you to read the text in either: English, French, or Spanish. Both radios have an alarm clock and they both allow you to program up to (25) county codes with the single, multiple, or any/all counties, with the optional alert types of: display, tone, or voice. These radios cell for around $50.00.
There are several battery-operated portable SAME radios on the market. If a portable SAME WX radio appeals to you, do some research and look for reviews – and see if you can download the manual. The Midland HH54VP Handheld SAME WX Radio is the newest portable SAME WX radio out there. The radio picks up the (7) NOAA WX channels, either with Home/Travel mode to get the strongest one, or Manual Tune. It allows for up to (25) county codes to be entered.
It has Display, Tone or Voice alert. The HH54VP has a clock and it has a Travel/Home mode. In Home mode, the radio uses all the default settings you have made. In Travel mode, the radio searches for the strongest station and it disables the single code and multi-code programming; so the radio will alert you to all counties around your locality. Your defaults will be saved for when you return to Home mode. The radio has a stubby antenna, so one would expect the receiving range not to be as great as WX radios with an extended whip antenna. The price is $60.00 Canadian at best or $39.00 American.
The HH54VP2 is exactly the same as the HH54VP and the WR-100B, but it includes a rechargeable battery pack and a charging cradle, and they both can fit (3) AA batteries. Also, the WR-100B doesn’t include the Home or Travel modes but the rest of its programming and the menu layout is identical to the HH54VP model.
Another popular radio is the Oregon Scientific WR-602. It is almost the same as the Midland HH54VP model with the Home/Travel mode. However it also has an Auto tuning setting, which the same thing as the Home/Travel functions in a way. It also has SAME programming, and alarm clock with a calendar. It also allows you to read the text in English, French, or Spanish. It comes with a rechargeable battery pack and a charging cradle and it allows for optional use of (3) AA batteries. This radio will alert you for every SAME event code and it allows you to program up to (9) county codes into the radio.
This radio is also known as the WR-108 and it was recalled in the US in the summer of 2007 because some radios didn’t report all WX alerts. It was replaced by the WR-602, which is identical in physical size programming and menu layout. For reviews on Weather Alert Radios please read on.
There are a number of handheld, base and mobile scanners with a SAME WEATHER ALERT option that have been around for a few years. Some examples are: BC246T, BC346XT, BC15X, BCD996XT, and many others. You can use them as a SAME radio or as a basic tone alert unit that will only go off with short fuse warnings, the monthly test, and when Weatheradio Canada goes into Watchdog mode. Check your scanners weather alert options on how to set it up for your own preference. On an observational note, in Canada when a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued and your Bearcat scanner is set to the SAME WEATHER ALERT option, it will respond to the 1050 Hz tone then it responds to the SAME alarm. The author has noticed this with both the BC246 and the BC346XT scanner, while listening to it during a recent summer weather event. However, this only happens when a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued first before anything else for a local area. If a watch is issued first then the scanner behaves like a regular public alert Weather Radio with SAME.”
NOAA Weather radio and Weatheradio Canada broadcast a weekly TEST. In the States, during that test, if your speaker is on, you will hear the names of the counties that are covered by the particular transmitter you are tuned to. This is all the counties that station is capable of transmitting to. You, of course, may have selected to hear alerts from only one or a few of the available counties during your setup routine.
There are coverage maps for NOAA transmitters at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/usframes.html
These maps can help you determine if your WX radio has a good (sensitive) receiver, or if it is sub-standard. Remember that most of the top-dollar receivers have a jack for an external (possibly mounted antenna. You can buy one from a manufacturer or you could build your own. We will discuss building antennas in a future issue!
In Canada the test is not only sent out to Weatheradio transmitters every week but for years they have also sent out the monthly test with the 1050 Hz tone. With the addition of Specific Area Message Encoding, Weatheradio Canada has decided to send out the “RWT” (required Weekly Test) and “RMT” (Required Monthly Test).
During the weekly test a voice message says: “you are listening to Weatheradio Canada’s weekly test of your alert equipped Weather Radio, broadcast every Wednesday near noon.” The message is repeated in French after it is heard in English for both the weekly and monthly tests.
During the monthly test the voice message says: “you are listening to Weatheradio Canada’s monthly test of your alert equipped Weather Radio, broadcast every Wednesday near noon. The first Wednesday of each month.” the monthly test still continues with the 1050 Hz. tone and the same message in English and French.
This three part article should help you to decide how you want to program your new radio. As far as the author is concerned, “I have my SAME WX radios set to the “ANY” or “ALL COUNTY” setting because when I am at home or mobile, I like to know if my local area or surrounding areas are being affected by severe weather.”
In this issue going forward, you get a chance to sound off on a particular Weather Alert Radio you have bought over the years. If you want to contribute your own review of any Weather Radio Receiver you own, just send it to the author and it will appear in a future issue. We will accept anything weather it’s a marine radio, scanner, crank radio, or just a standalone Weather Radio. However, we won’t allow any reviews on your amateur radio transceiver because not everyone receiving this newsletter is a licensed ham at this time, but most people that go out on the lake during the warmer months may have a marine radio on their boat or in their possession and may also have their Restricted Operators Certificate (Maritime), in order to legally transmit on the VHF marine band.
Disclaimer: The following are reviews of various Weather Alert Radios that are strictly those of the people writing them and not necessarily of the author unless noted.
REVIEW OF THE MIDLAND W-R120 PUBLIC ALERT WEATHER RADIO
Hello. This is your newsletter author with a review of the WR-120 Weather alert Radio from Midland. It was discussed in the last section, but I wanted to go more in to detail about how it works and my experiences with the ergonomics of the unit. I bought it last fall at Durham Radio just east of Toronto. The unit reminds me of the WR-100B because of the physical similarity in size and design. I like it but there are things that frustrated me about both the technical setup and resetting it. As a blind person it is a real challenge to set it up;, because it beeps twice when I am trying to get to the menu to program the time, alarm clock, set the channel, etc. I had someone at the store set it up for me the first time and I had some help from Midland Radio on the phone before hand with the menu layout. This was to insure that I could work with the unit by myself as much as possible, because nobody else in my apartment building has a clue about what Weather Radio is, except for another member of our group, who also happens to be blind.
I had to reset the radio because I was woken up by the alarm clock going off before 3:00 AM, and a frost warning was issued and the radio was on “TONE” which is the default alert type. That’s when I began to have problems; however I have reset the radio to my liking and everything is working as it should.
On the plus side I think the feature of changing the reading language is really cool. It is good for people whose first language may not be English because there are a few NOAA Weather Radio stations with both English and Spanish in the broadcast cycle, and Weatheradio Canada has both English and French in theirs.
I also like the option of turning on the audio for the weekly test. This is certainly helpful to me and I am assured that the alert function is working.
I would like to discuss a couple of things the manual for this unit says that is clearly misleading the unsuspecting consumer, who may be thinking about purchasing the unit.
1. In the manual when it talks about the weather alert types, it discusses the voice alert in this way. “when an alert is issued, the tone will sound for (8) seconds and the radio will play the broadcast for (3) minutes.” The tone does sound for around (8) seconds but, the radio only plays until the end of the SAME message.
2. The manual says the radio will turn on or off the weekly test. I can tell you that both the weekly test and the required monthly test are turned on or off and I don’t mind that, but when a manual is written for a product, everything should be carefully looked at by any manufacturer, to insure the person buying it knows exactly what he or she is getting into.
As far as setting up the radio, I found that the best way to do the initial set up is to turn it on and press the select button repeatedly, until you hear static or voice; this depends on what you hear on Channel 4, which is the default on all Midland SAME radios by the way. The rest of the manual is in line with how the radio is laid out, so you can set it up otherwise.
Over all, I think it is a wonderful radio as long as you can see what you are doing. I would also like to thank the very nice and very patient people at Midland Corporation for letting me bug them for the menu layout and other issues I have had with it and other products they manufacture. I hope the next one they put out there is just as interesting as this one is.
THE CANWARN / SKYWARN REPORT
CANWARN is a volunteer organization of amateur radio operators who report severe weather and damage reports to Environment Canada when they see it. Weather reports from amateur radio operators help confirm on the ground what satellites and radars see in the atmosphere. The information gathered from CANWARN is also used to update and fine tune weather warnings, fill in gaps in current observing networks and is also valuable in forensic storm analysis. When Environment Canada issues severe weather watches or warnings, they may alert the CANWARN volunteer Net Controllers in the affected areas. The volunteer Net Controllers contact other CANWARN members on the amateur radio, tell them a watch or warning has been issued and ask them to report signs of approaching severe weather. In the US SKYWARN is the American counterpart to CANWARN in Canada and the purpose for it is exactly the same.
For this section of the newsletter, we will explore how different CANWARN groups operate in their local region and we hope to collect some SKYWARN articles from meteorologists and trained individuals, as we have 4 articles from CANWARN groups or individuals that we think are very interesting and a bonus item relating to SKYWARN. We may not agree with everything that is written here, but it is important to hear from others to see how different groups operate throughout North America.
INTRODUCING Ward G. Kenedy VE3WGK current CANWARN Coordinator for Central Ontario
I got involved in severe WX in 1981 when I was a junior ranger with the Ontario Ministry of Natural resources in Hurst Ont. I set up a small WX station to measure the temp and humidity and the amount of rain that we got at our base camp. When the district office found out that I was taking these measurements they would contact me by radio every day to get these reports from me. 1 day when I was at the district office in Hurst Ontario I saw a ministry of natural Resources pickup truck with a severe weather spotter sticker on a side window. When I got back to Toronto in late Aug of 1981 I called environment Canada and asked about the program. I was sent an information package in the mail as well as a window sticker.
Over the next few summers while working for the ministry of natural resources I would set up rain gauges and measure the amount of rain that we would get every day. I then heard about using ham radio and the Canwarn program. But since I was not a ham radio operator at the time I would use a phone number to get any reports to Environment Canada. I would also watch the King city radar on the TV as it was on a TV channel at the time. When I got my basic Ham ticket in February 2004 I was able to call in my reports to environment Canada via my Amateur radio. In 2005 I got my advanced ham radio ticket. I also have my marine and aeronautical radio permits. I was very interested in net control. I had to go thru an interview with 3 other net controllers to make sure I would be a good net controller. I would go to EC when Canwarn was paged out just to watch the other net controllers run the nets and to gain more experience. The following year I was a net controller and was given a black Canwarn pager which was known as pager #11. At this time there were approx. (87) pagers across the province of Ontario. The following year I was asked by Scott Keddie the Canwarn Co-ordinator for Central Ontario If I was interested in taking over his Volunteer position as being the New Coordinator for CANWARN Central Ontario for Amateur radio. I jumped at the chance and said Yes:) That Year I traveled with Scott across southern and central Ontario from Dufferin County in the west to Peterborough in the east and to Sudbury and the North shore to the North. This is a non paying position but Environment Canada would cover my expenses (i.e.) fuel food and if I needed to stay in a hotel over night.
I really liked going to environment Canada to run the nets and meet up with the other net controllers from the Toronto area. The radio call sign for Canwarn Toronto is VE3YZW. The Toronto Weather office and Ontario Storm Prediction Centre. We have VHF / UHF / 6 metres as back up and also an HF radio on the shelf in case we ever needed it.
When reports come in from trained Canwarn spotters on the ham radio we fill out paper logs and then file reports to the OSPC via a computer link that make the forecasters computer screen go red when we file a report to them. So they have to read the report before they can go back to the regular screen they were on.
As technology improves we have done away with the Canwarn pagers that the net controllers used to carry. The messages could be missed or be just blank boxes. Most people have some form of Cell phone/ smart phone/ Black Berry device which can hold a page in case the person is in a bad area and then get sent to them when the coverage is better. Sometimes the net controllers will start a net from home or in their car or from EC or sometimes I can run a net from VE3OSC, the Ontario Science Centre. If you would like more information from me please drop me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and put Canwarn in the Subject Line. If you are a Face Book User you can Join Canwarn Central Ontario. I try and post information daily. For a list of Canwarn Frequencies in Ontario drop me a line.
Ward Kennedy VE3WGK/VA3WGK/VA3CTA Canwarn Central Ontario Coordinator Amateur Radio.
INTER-COUNTY CANWARN NETWORK written by Bob Gammon VA3RX/VE3ECO
Established March / APRIL 2010. Introduction / Purpose (ICCN)
The primary objective of this Network is to provide coordinated communications with most of Ontario’s counties during severe weather events that may require activation of CANWARN Operations within the Province of Ontario.
This Network will be activated during all severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings issued by Environment Canada from the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre at the Toronto weather Office.
Each specific county would remain responsible for the independent operation of their own local CANWARN Nets with the added capability to use the Ontario Public Service IRLP Reflector # 9030 located in Halliburton and owned by ECOA (Emergency Communications Ontario Association).
Using the key station concept adopted by the NWS. Michigan MICON Network all CANWARN Net control stations should connect to the Reflector channel 0 on demand or as required to provide severe weather reports on storm cells that may be moving into and affecting adjacent counties.
The primary coordination process would then shift from county to county in relation to the status and track of the storm cells that may pose a real threat. The key control station for each county linked to the Reflector can then forward updated severe weather information in real time directly to the Toronto weather Office by using the online META page or via the dedicated toll free number.
Several regions have expressed interest in this Network including Windsor Essex Leamington Chatham Kent Sarnia Lambton London Middlesex Simcoe Norfolk Halliburton Kawartha Lakes Peterborough Kingston and Frontenac. Additional support and consideration to join this program is being reviewed by Barrie Orillia Muskoka Parry Sound Manitoulin and Michigan SKYWARN.
It is hoped that through objective planning of this weather Network we can expand and enhance the public service value of the established CANWARN program and bring the resources of EmComm technology to a new level as we improve the delivery of critical severe weather information to Environment Canada during severe weather events that can threaten Ontario at any time.
CANWARN IN ATLANTIC CANADA – by Bob Robichaud VE1MBR Warning Preparedness Meteorologist
Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre/Canadian Hurricane Centre
In Atlantic Canada a slightly different approach to CANWARN has been established. Although the program originally started the traditional way of being mainly for summer severe weather, they have adapted the CANWARN concept for all types of storms. In 2007 and 2008 a series of strong tropical cyclones blew through the Maritimes and there were a number of valuable ham radio weather reports sent in through the hurricane nets that were active at the time. After those storms, meteorologists looked into how they could facilitate these nets and even expand the reporting to winter weather. In many cases amateur radio operators also have home weather stations which can provide valuable rainfall and other data. After some discussion, the Nova Scotia Amateur Radio Association purchased a handheld VHF radio for the Atlantic Storm Prediction Centre/Canadian Hurricane Centre (APSC/CHC). The centre is also equipped with Echolink capabilities for coordinating weather reporting activities during major events. Coordination with some SKYWARN groups in the Northeast US during hurricanes revealed that they were also activating during winter storms and meteorologists at the ASPC/CHC worked with them to see how they worked during these events.
Essentially the way it works is if there is a major storm on its way a decision will be made ahead of time on whether or not the nets will activate. That decision is a joint one made by the Warning Preparedness Meteorologist at the ASPC who is also an amateur radio operator or the lead forecaster on duty; and the CANWARN net controllers. Once a net is activated it’s very similar to typical summer activation. Often the spotters will be asked to make an observation on the hour, the net controller will then broadcast (15) minutes after the hour to get reports and then those reports are collected and sent by email or passed along by radio to the ASPC. CANWARN in Atlantic Canada has activated for snowstorms, ice storms, wind storms, hurricanes and storm surge events. One of the things that meteorologists have noticed is that ham reports are especially useful in supplementing snowfall accumulation information and determining the location of rain/snow lines in winter storms. Meteorologists in the region also do training sessions throughout the year in person and remotely via computer through WebEx webinars. If you are interested you can go to http://www.freewebs.com/ve1jbl/canwarn.htm.
The weather and damage reports received from CANWARN members can provide key information to weather forecasters during any type of severe weather event. In Atlantic Canada CANWARN can be activated for the following types of events:
a. Severe Winter Storms including ice storms
b. Strong wind or heavy rainfall events
c. Storm surge events
d. Hurricanes, Tropical Storms or Post-Tropical Storms
e. Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches
f. Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Warnings
The program in Atlantic Canada was recently highlighted in a Weather Network feature story about weather and ham radio. http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/storm_watch_stories3&stormfile=serving_up_weather_with_a_ha_021111?ref=ccbox_weather_topstories
COMMENTS ABOUT THE LAST ARTICLE FROM THE AUTHOR
I chose to include it because of an article in a magazine called The Canadian Amateur and it touched a nerve with me because I have been fighting for a winter CANWARN program for ham radio in Ontario since 2010, when it was expanded from the snow-belts to the rest of the province. We currently don’t have any ham radio activity relating to CANWARN in the winter but with the inclusion of the previous article, maybe the rest of the country can at least think about starting up ham radio nets in the winter.
Further to that, I have my own condition criteria for a winter CANWARN net and it is similar to the spring/summer criteria but there are some differences, however all the check in and traffic criteria should remain relatively the same for each condition code.
CONDITION GREEN: winter storm watch,
CONDITION YELLOW: winter storm warning, this can include all warnings under the wsw SAME event code, and flash freeze warning
CONDITION RED: blizzard warning and wind related warnings including: wind and wind chill warnings.
I hope this will make a difference to influence Environment Canada to at least consider these ideas and hopefully they can be tried out in the future.
INTRODUCING Joe Herendy
Hello, my name is Joe and my callsign is VE3VSA. I met Gord on the VE3PRC VHF repeater in the early spring and he mentioned the newsletter. I was very interested in what he was doing so I went on http://www.qrz.com and I thought it was well researched and so I joined.
I currently own the Sangean CL100 Weather alert radio. It is a very good sounding unit and it of course does what it’s supposed to do.
By the way I am CANWARN trained since 1988. I have been on a stormchaser team for a season in Kansas as I have a cousin who introduced me to chasing. I saw the Tuscaloosa tornado upfront last year as I was there for a visit that week. So like our author and most others on the mailing list I am quite experienced in CANWARN related activities. Thank you Gord for allowing me to be a part of this important newsletter.
For those of you reading the newsletter that live in the US, there is an online SKYWARN training course available to everyone free online. It takes a couple hours to complete.
This course covers the basics of being a SKYWARN Spotter. The goal of the course is to provide baseline training for all spotters through multiple modules covering the procedures for spotting (including communication and spotter report criteria) and safety considerations for all hazards.
To check out the course or to register to take it online go to:
CHECK-IN RESULTS OF THE WEATHER RADIO LISTENERS NEWSLETTER NET
Saturday June 9th 22 check ins, Saturday June 16th 20 check ins, Saturday June 23rd 12 check ins,
Saturday June 30th 23 check ins, Saturday July 7th 22 check ins, Saturday July 14th 13 check ins,
Saturday July 21st 18 check ins, Saturday July 28th 13 check ins.
If you would like more information or to be a net controller in the future, please email Gord VA3WXA at the email address at the end of the newsletter.
Where to Purchase Weather Radios
Weather Radios can be purchased at various electronics stores that specialize in radios and other equipment such as:
BML Communications at http://www.bml.ca/,
CB World at http://www.werecb.com/,
Universal Radio at http://www.universal-radio.com/,
Durham Radio at http://www.durhamradio.com/,
Radio World at http://www.radioworld.ca/,
Efston Science at http://www.escience.ca/,
Burnaby Radio at http://www.burnabyradio.com/,
Weather Radio Store at http://www.Weatherradiostore.com/, and many more retailers throughout North
When planning to purchase your first Weather Radio, it is highly recommended to look for the Public Alert identification logo.
Weather Information on the Internet
Suggested weather sites to visit as follows; In Canada visit http://www.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca/
Want to get your weather in the US? Go to http://www.nws.noaa.gov/
Weatheradio Canada webpage at http://www.ec.gc.ca/weatheradio
NOAA Weather Radio webpage at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.
DX Info Centre at http://www.dxinfocentre.com/, to hear what Weather Radio sounds like
before buying your first receiver, visit YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/,
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard Newsletter at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/news.htm.
Yahoo Weatheradio Chatgroup, at http://tech.Groups.yahoo.com/group/weatheradio/,
WXtoIMG at http://www.wxtoim.com,
Digital Atmosphere at http://www.weathergraphics.com
WebEx at http://www.freewebs.com/ve1jbl/canwarn.htm.
There are many reliable manufacturers and retailers of Weather Radios sold in Canada and the USA. Below is a list of the recommended models currently for sale. Note: This list of suggested weather radios is strictly for informational purposes, and not as an endorsement of any specific model or manufacturer.
Midland Radio Corporation http://www.Midlandradio.com WR-300, WR-100B, WR-120, HH54VP, HH54VP2, ER-102, and WR-11 are all manufactured by Midland and sold in North America.
Oregon Scientific http://www2oregonscientific.com WR-601, and WR-602 are currently sold in North America.
Uniden Corporation http://www.Uniden.com BC95XLT, BC125AT, BC346XT, BCT15X, BCD996XT, Homepatrol, and BCD396XT are currently sold in North America.
Sangean USA http://www.Sangean.com CL100, DT400, and PRD9W are manufactured by Sangean and currently sold in North America.
Reecom Electronics Inc. http://www.reecominc.com R-1630 and R-1650 are manufactured by Reecom and currently sold in North America.
If you have any comments or suggestions, or if you wish to submit an article, please email the author Gord at email@example.com. We also encourage you to visit http://www.qrz.com/db/va3wxa.
I would like to give special thanks to those who made contributions to this fourth issue as follows: Bob Robichaud, Joe Herendy, John McKay, Marlene Mestroni, Denis Paquette, Sylvain Boutot, The Ontario Climate Centre, Dennis T. Paganin (our web master and editor), Andre Cyr, Anne McCarthy, Peter Staples, Malcolm Kendal, Randy Mawson, Joey Shynn, Gregory Zwicker, Max Crawford, Richard Rhodes, David Young, Alan McPherson, Phil Chadwick, Geoff Coulson, Bob Gamond, Ward G. Kenedy, Midland Radio Corperation, and Marc Fitkin for their help and contributions to this issue. I would also like to say a very special thanks to David Young VE3EAY, who passed away on February 20th. He helped with the three part article on programming your Weather Radio and I am grateful to have known him, if only for a brief time. Thanks and 73 Dave. Keep the air waves in the afterlife going!
Sincerely, Gord VA3WXA