Hello and welcome to the second issue of the newsletter for 2019. It is spring and after winter’s fury during the first half of March, I’m glad it’s done with us. Also, April wasn’t as cold and cruel as it was last year, with the month (as a whole) feeling much more like spring, than it did during April 2018 throughout most parts of Canada.
On another note, this issue ties The Simpsons in that while we are on our 30th issue, The Simpsons is on its 30th season and there are 2 episodes yet to air. I’ve talked about The Simpsons in earlier issues and if you wish to read my earlier articles within posts, go to issues: 9, 11, 12 and 13 for my comments and synopsis’s on weather related Simpsons episodes. There are more of them which I hadn’t mentioned but weather plays a smaller roll in them. I will include an excerpt from a post in my blog (which relates to The Simpsons) talking about 3 episodes which have thunderstorms in them. However, I will include them later on so, if you are a fan of Homer and the rest of the yellow family from Springfield, read on to get some more weather related “d’oh” moments from Homer and company.
Finally, you will notice that there really isn’t a lot of Weather Radio related articles in this issue. That’s because there really has been not much to talk about, with no new information on the new voices for Weatheradio Canada and when they are to be launched on the network. Also, for the first time I have heard no new reports of any watchdog events for Weatheradio Canada or, lengthy outages. If there have been, nobody has come foraward and emailed or messaged me with any such information. So, I assume that all is well?
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this issue and have a safe rest of the spring and summer severe weather season. I hope we have a great summer and it is nice and hot, but not stifling.
It is our pleasure to announce that we have launched our new mobile app called WeatherCAN. The app responds to the evolving needs of Canadians to access reliable weather information directly at the tip of their fingers, wherever they are in Canada.
Available on Apple and Android smartphones, WeatherCAN draws its weather data and information directly from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the official source for Canadian weather alerts.
• Current conditions, hourly- and 7-day forecasts for over 10,000 locations in Canada.
• Push notifications for all weather alerts issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada for your location and saved locations.
• Weather information for your location (following you as you travel) as well as for saved locations anywhere in Canada.
• High-resolution radar animation on a zoomable map background.
• A message centre providing weather facts and climate information relevant to the current weather.
• Today and short-range forecast widget for quick, at-a-glance weather information.
• Accessible in English and French, and an in-app ability to switch between languages.
That was a rather lengthy excerpt of an email I received on April 10th from Environment and Climate Change Canada, only because of my involvement with CANWARN. Since I had composed the standalone post on April 11th, I figured I would revisit it and include comments from those of you, who have responded on Facebook or to me personally, by other methods of communication. I have given my opinions on what should be done in the future and there is some agreement on this, so far and here are the comments I have received from those on the email list and on FB.
“I downloaded the new Environment Canada Weather app. However, I can get NO precipitation to appear on the radar choice even when I know there is ongoing precipitAtion at that site. It has yet to show any precipitAtion. My other apps..Météo and weather network shows precipitAtion. I have four stations ..Oshawa, Bancroft, Algonquin Park, and Englehart. The base map comes up but no overlying info. The other apps eg. Meteo and weather network radar works fine.”
“I love the app. It replaced The Weather Network on my phone. I would like to see Satellite imagery and, a Lightning map would be even better. I’m not fond of the radar, light colors on a white oriented map makes it difficult to see radar detail. There is no option to change maps. Additional notifications for alerts each time they are updates, would be even better as an option and an option only. I find alerts are issued on the app faster than their website and, it’s a supplement to Weatheradio Canada for sure.”
“I would really like it if in the future voiceover would be able to read radar, I know this is just wishful thinking, and there probably is only a very small percentage of us that utilize the app with voiceover, it would just be a really nice touch, unfortunately at this stage in the game I don’t believe that’s possible. A marine tab would also be nice, and marine weather alerts.”
Those are 3 separate comments from 3 people, who use the app and it’s functionality for them. Here is one from someone who maintains another app, which I provide a link to in the section devoted to weather applications.
“The Eccc app is interesting… I’m personally not a fan of the design, but I do like the radar map. For the current location, I wish they didn’t implement the fine grain locations like they did. I feel it’s a bit deceiving because it’s not actually the weather for the “current” location. For example, I live about 45min outside of Saskatoon and the Eccc app does say the weather is for the closest town… but in reality there is only one weather station in the area and that’s for Saskatoon. I do understand though… this is what The Weather Network and other big weather apps do, so gotta keep up with them.”
That is exactly how I feel about it, VS. Météo and it’s being more-or-less faithful to the website. Altho, if you allow the website to use your current location and you live in Toronto, it gives you: Pearson International Airport, Toronto City Centre Airport and oddly, Richmond Hill instead of Vaughan. I’ve noticed this while at home and when I went to the CANWARN session at Environment Canada on May 5th last year and made a mental note of it. There wasn’t as many options in other cities near Toronto, as I discovered when going to the Oakville session last May and before I heard the 2 new voices and the survey announcement on Weatheradio. Anyway, I digress.
As for the comment on the weather for the location WeatherCAN thinks is nearest to us, it is the weather conditions and not necessarily the forecasts or alerts which may be the problem. For example: if you live in a big city like Toronto, there are 2 or 3 observation locations in the area, either app could pinpoint as your location. Also, the example I am giving is for when I am in my home location, either in my apartment or near by.
WeatherCAN thinks I’m closest to Pearson airport, while Météo thinks I’m closest to Toronto city Centre airport. When I went to my dentist appointment in February, I checked the hourly reports or “Now” tab and WeatherCAN found me in North York… which I was and Météo thought my closest observation location was Pearson International Airport. However, North York gives the weather conditions for Toronto Buttonville Airport, which is actually in Markham, which is a part of York Region. Thankfully, the forecasts and alerts apply to the city of Toronto and not Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham, as they are clustered together with SAME and in weather forecasts. I made certain to verify this, during a recent spring storm, with both Wintery and spring weather conditions, prompting various warnings throughout Ontario.
As for the earlier comment about a lightning map and satellite, Météo has this but it is an iPhone app so, this is a valid comment. Also, the Alertable app has updated severe weather advisories (as they are called) and this includes weather advisories up to watches and warnings issued by Environment Canada. However, it doesn’t update special weather statements as WeatherCAN should do, as well as watches, warnings and advisories (in my opinion). If weather applications are here to serve us and hopefully save lives, why not go all out and give us everything, with as much control over what we see and hear on our smart phones or tablets? After all, some of us use VoiceOver on iOS devices and what ever you have, will ding, dong or something… when an alert goes out to it. Right? Also, some of us have other reasons for wanting as much control over what we see and hear, because of our involvement with CANWARN and not all net controllers can do a net at home, while at their computer, where they will receive emails with the latest watches and warnings. Right? I wish that any of the apps I have now, were around when I did my own CANWARN nets for Halton CANWARN back in 2011 and I certainly would have wanted all of the control over how I was to be alerted and which alerts I would hear, so I could have updated people in a timely manner, instead of being late.
Anyway, I downloaded the app almost a month after I acquired my new iPhone 8. I still think it needs the improvements I and others have mentioned but I think it’s great for a start. I will obviously be using the app and following its progress, as it evolves and hopefully, more functionality and control is given to us in the future. After all, it is CANWARN training session time again, across Canada.
As for how the release of the new application could affect the future of Weatheradio Canada, I don’t think it will and the same is true of other apps, which do similar things. Someone commented on the other applications out there, which offer much the same functionality and the response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) that they want to disseminate and not compete with other applications. So, in the case of Weatheradio Canada existing alongside this application, I think they both can co-exist together and at some points in the broadcast cycle, the app could have and should have been promoted, from time to time, for those who may not use the website or go shopping at either the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store all that often. I have always said that you shouldn’t just rely on one thing to keep up with the weather because, if the radio goes down (i-e) into watchdog, where would you go to be kept up to date with the latest weather forecasts, conditions and watches or warnings? Also, for those of us who are CANWARN trained and net controllers, the app has the potential to be a tool, for mobile use, whether someone is doing a net from their car or somewhere else outside their home location. If all of what we ask for is granted to us, then WeatherCAN and other weather apps can all serve to save our own lives, as well as others more efficiently, as long as everything works on both ends.
THE CANWARN/SKYWARN REPORT
CANWARN (CANadian Weather Amateur Radio Network) 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 and SKYWARN groups operate in their local region, from time to time. There may be some SKYWARN information from meteorologists in this issue and there will be some tips on how to report severe weather for both CANWARN and 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.
I would like to know about both CANWARN and or.SKYWARN training schedules, outside of Ontario. Unfortunately, I have not received any emails from meteorologists or my fellow spotters, as to when sessions are will be conducted. Of course, I will post them as a standalone blog post outside the newsletter timeline and when ever a new schedule update is released. I have given my email address many times throughout the newsletter and any help on that is certainly welcome. Many thanks in advance.
If you have had a chance to read the standalone post I recently did, (with the first scheduled CANWARN training sessions) you know that Geoff Coulson is back at EC. However, only in a part-time role, to help with the transition and other projects relating to CANWARN. There will be an online course and possibly, other things in the future for those who can’t attend a session near them. Most importantly, there is a new voice for CANWARN Ontario, in the shape of Gerald Cheng, whom I met at last years training session on May 5th. I have no problem with him, even if he had no clew about Weatheradio and most likely, other meteorologists probably don’t have any idea, that they are helping keep a service that their workplace provides us (for free) going and they are responsible for some of what we hear, going over a VHF radio.
Geoff is happy in retirement and as for any future CANWARN related standalone posts, I think I will be continuing to add them and edit any emails I receive with any updated schedules, as I see fit. I am excited to hear what Gerald is going to do, when I attend the session on Saturday and hopefully, he remembers me, in my red Weatheradio Canada jacket.
The Simpsons & Thunderstorms
Here is a large chunk of the post I had mentioned earlier, from my Simpsons related blog on The Simpsons and their encounters with thunderstorms. I realize I will be talking (mostly to the converted here) on what not to do during severe thunderstorms (or any thunderstorms) but I felt I should insert it here, in case someone wants to get on the news by doing something they shouldn’t, during a thunderstorm.
An example of this is when in the episode “Homer At The Bat”, Homer talks about how his “wonderbat’ came to be. According to Homer, It all started the year before during a terrible thunderstorm, when he locked himself out of the house. He decided to shelter himself with a large piece of sheet metal and ran for cover under the tallest tree he could find! A bolt of lightning struck the tree, and a branch fell down. This must have been a very special… magical… piece of wood that he could make a bat out of. This was the same bat, which was used to hit the winning Homerun, between the Springfield and Shelbyville nuclear plants.
With this and all other examples sited here, please don’t ever do that and when thunder roars, go in doors and stay inside for 30 minutes after the last lightning strike. Besides, if you can hear the thunder and you are outside during a baseball, socker or golfing, you are in the strike zone.
Another example of a thunderstorm which affected The Simpsons is during the episode Don’t Fear The Roofer, when Springfield becomes the target of a powerful thunderstorm and 742 Evergreen Terrace appears to be the main target and the thunderstorm itself causes a leak in the roof. Homer plans to use a “Hot Wheels” track to stop the leak but Lisa’s hamster goes down the chute and goes out the door via the mail slot and then Lisa has to open it to get her hamster and then he gets sick as he was the subject of Lisa’s show and tell project. The leak also affects Bart and Maggie and causes Snowball to fall in quicksand which was his litter box deluged by rain.
The outstanding part of this opening scene of the episode is when news anker Kent Brockman interviews Professor Frink and his explanation isn’t necessarily correct but it is funny, because it’s Professor Frink.
“Kent Brockman here with “Storm watch 6″ Professor Frink, what is the scientific explanation for this unusually severe thunderstorm?”
“Well, Kent, we are exploring two theories of this quaint A: either we have a supercell of high pressure fronts or B: God is bowling. With the balls, and the pins and the rental shoes and the very bad cheese pizza that comes in squares.”
“Fine! There you have it!”
To be fair, I did excise Krusty’s comments out of it because they had nothing to do with the thunderstorm or weather in general and more to do with celling his bad weather jokes to someone else.
In the episode “ThreeMen and a Commic Book” Bart, Milhouse and Martin are in a raging thunderstorm and a raging battle between each other, over a commic book. Bart attends a comic book convention and finds the first issue of Radioactive Man at The Android’s Dungeon sale table for $100. He doesn’t have enough money in his own allowance and his parents refusal to give him extra money, forces him to turn to Mrs. Glick, who has some rather unsavory chores around the house that he can do. However, all Bart gets is 50 cents for his hard work.
Bart returns to the comic book store and runs into Milhouse and Martin. They decide to pool their money in buying the first Radioactive Man Comic from Comic Book Guy. None of them want to let the comic book out of their sights and decide to spend the night together in Bart’s treehouse. As a storm approaches, Martin devises a plan so that the three boys have equal access to the comic. As he attempts to leave with the comic, Bart stops him. Bart gets progressively more paranoid and becomes convinced that the other two are conspiring against him.
Eventually, each boy is at each other’s throat. When Martin gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, Bart thinks he plans on stealing the comic book and subsequently ties him up. Meanwhile a storm is raging outside. Milhouse falls out of the treehouse as a gust of wind takes hold of the comic so that it flies towards the entrance. Bart reaches out to grab Milhouse by the hand. He is forced to decide between Milhouse and the comic. After mulling over his options, Bart chooses Milhouse and pulls him up into the treehouse. The comic flies out the door, is zapped by lightning, and shredded by Santa’s Little Helper.
The next morning, the three boys reflect on how their inability to share lead to the destruction of the comic book. However, they never noticed that the final panel was not shredded and was peacefully being a nest mat for a mother bird.
What if this had happened in real life? I know I would have stayed inside, despite that I am a huge fan of whatever it is, going on during such a weather event. As someone who knows better than to be outside during a thunderstorm, if I was Homer or Marge, I would have made sure they were inside the house and not in the treehouse. Sure, a treehouse can provide shelter but, what about the lightning? Bart, Milhouse or Martin could have been struck or even killed by lightning and even the wind could have done damage to the treehouse itself. They are lucky that it wasn’t hailing, or a tornado hadn’t swept them away. They are also lucky that they are Real people and R of course, animated character is voiced by real people.
I decided to do this post because of this time of year, when the weather is warm and it can get nasty, dew to daytime heating or other factors, which could trigger either non-severe or severe thunderstorms, which could also lead to tornadoes. Thankfully, we have many ways to keep up with the weather and weather alerts such as: Weather Radio, weather applications, radio and TV, as well as alerts on our smart phones, when it is critical. For example: tornado warnings and Amber alerts sound on our smart phones and in some cases, on Weather Radio, obviously with weather watches and warnings opening up the receiver.
Hopefully, we have as little loss of life, because of this years severe weather and we all take weather alerts seriously, as I and others who know better certainly do. I hope we all stay weather safe and never take any beeps you hear on your TV or radio lightly.
As for SKYWARN training schedules, you can go to either of the following sites:
There are many links for you to look at on these sites. 🙂
SPOTTER REPORTING TIPS
How to Report
Amateur radio network (if applicable) – Amateur Radio Condition
Condition Codes: Code Green – Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Code Yellow – Severe Thunderstorm Warning or Tornado Watch
Code Red – Tornado Warning
Twitter with hashtag #onstorm
If you are CANWARN trained you should give the following information to the weather office in order to help them ground truth: Your name, CANWARN ID, contact number, – Where – you are located and the approximate location of what you are reporting, – Describe what you are witnessing/what you witnessed, the time of occurrence of the event and duration, its movement (where the phenomenon came from and where it is going).
In the spring/summer severe weather season, please report the following:
Hail (use coins to describe its size…dime, nickel, quarter, loonie for larger hail…golf ball etc.), Heavy rain that has resulted in local flooding, Damaging winds (damage from tree branches down to more significant tree or structural damage), Large scale rotation in a thunderstorm such as: Wall Cloud – Funnel Cloud, Waterspout and Tornado, Dense fog – visibility less than 1 km
Note: if you are unsure of the rotation or presence of a wall cloud or funnel cloud…watch the area for a few minutes if it is safe to do so to verify the situation.
For the fall/winter, please report the following: Dense fog (visibility less than 1 km), Any occurrence of freezing rain or freezing drizzle, Heavily accumulating snow (2 or more cm/hr), Whiteout conditions in snow/blowing snow (visibility near zero), Rapid freezing of water on road surfaces.
For SKYWARN spotters, you should report: Tornadoes or funnel clouds (be very wary of look-alikes; watch for rotation)
waterspouts, Wall clouds, especially if they are rotating
Hail (Be specific with regard to size; however, YOU SHOULD NOT report MARBLE size)
Winds (40 mph or greater; specify whether they are estimated or recorded), large branches downed (specify the diameter of the branch), Trees/power lines downed, Structural damage to buildings such as roof, windows, etc.
Rainfall (1 inch or greater in an hour) (NOT a 1″/hr. rate for 10 minutes), 2 inches or greater storm total, Flooding — Streams/Rivers — also, when nearing bankful — Coastal — Street (Road Closures/Washouts, Cars Stuck due to flood waters. Minimum of 6″ of water covering an entire roadway or lane of a major route/highway).
For Winter Weather you should report: Precipitation type change (rain to sleet/freezing rain/snow, when the change has “taken hold”), Thunder when it is accompanied by snow, 1/4″ radial ice accretion (from twig outward; not circumference), New Snowfall from the First 2 inches; every 2-3 inches thereafter, 1 inch per hour or greater.
If it is less than 2 inches total, give the final total only Give final total: no partial reports please) Report any snow/sleet/freezing rain if not in NWS forecast.
Please consult your local Amateur Radio club or CANWARN or SKYWARN group for their: email address, Twitter account or Facebook pages.
Weather Nets On Ham Radio from Daryl Stout WX4QZ
a) VoIP Skywarn Hurricane Prep Net — Meets at 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5pm Pacific Time, on the *WX_TALK* Echolink Conference Server…Echolink Node 7203, and IRLP Node 9219.
During the off-season hurricane months from December through May, the net meets on the FIRST SATURDAY of the month ONLY. During the Atlantic Hurricane Season, from June through November, the net meets WEEKLY, at 8pm Eastern, 7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, and 5pm Pacific Time.
Also, note that on the first Saturday of December, the net is ONE HOUR EARLIER…at 7pm Eastern, 6pm Central, 5pm Mountain, and 5pm Pacific Time. This is so at the conclusion of Skywarn Recognition Day, stations don’t have to wait for the net to occur.
b) Southeast US D-Star Weather Net — Meets at 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, and 6pm Pacific, every Sunday night, on Reflector 4, Port A. The net also meets on the Southeast US D-Star Weather Net Ratflector on D-Rats.
Daryl Stout, WX4QZ, Net Control
Southeast US D-Star Weather Net
Certified Skywarn Severe Storrrm Spotter
Where toPurchase Weather Radios
Weather Radios can be purchased at various electronics stores that specialize in radios and other equipment such as:
Or, the free iOS app Best Buy Canada by Best Buy Canada Ltd
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
The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Newsletter is published four times a year. There is some seasonal information to notify recipients of additional weather information available to them that they may not know about (most of which can be found on the NOAA Watch web site http://www.noaawatch.gov/
). At this site you can also subscribe to various weather feeds. The rest of the newsletter remains relatively unchanged due to outreach requirements. The current newsletter is available at the Noaa Weather Radio website http://www.weather.gov/nwr/news.htm
. At this time, there is no newsletter mailing list to subscribe.
Yahoo Weatheradio Chatgroup, at
NOAA and Weatheradio Canada group on Facebook,
Weather or Weather Radio Apps
This is a growing list and it needs more results for future reference. If you have idea’s for weather or Weather Radio apps which should be put into future issues of the newsletter, send an email to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Right now these are iPhone apps only, because that is all we have at the moment. Your help is needed to expand it.
Alertable by Public Emergency Alerting Services Inc
Note: for android users there is an android version of this app, which you can find on the Google Play store.
Weather Office Free by X2 Studios
This app provides weather and forecast information for both Canada and the US from Environment Canada and the National Weather Service respectively. In fact nearly all apps mentioned here provide information from one or both sources. There is a version you pay for but to me, it is the same as the free version.
NOAA Weather Radio by Christopher Coudriet
This app allows you to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and receive alerts for your county in the US. It would be nice if it also provided the same feature for Weatheradio Canada and Canadians too, as it provides some Canadian WXR’s as live streams.
The Weather Center by Midland Radio Corporation
This app provides access to Midland Radio via social media and also provides weather forecast information and much more.
Weather Radio by WDT by Weather Decision Technologies, Inc.
This app gives you NWS alerts and also pushes lightning alerts to your iPhone, when lightning is possibly detected in your local area or, in area’s you have selected.
TuneIn Radio – Stream Live Radio by TuneIn
This popular app allows you to listen to conventional, Internet and even some Weather Radio stations when and where available. you can even listen to podcasts of your favourite radio shows if you like and maybe even audiobooks, To help you pass the time in the monotony of a commute or while waiting in the waiting room for an appointment.
WeatherCAN, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s new weather app is now available on Android and iOS. Check your store to download. Here is the iOS link.
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ca.gc.ec.weather_app_android.ops
Météo – Canadian Weather by North Bits Solutions Ltd.
This is another app designed for Canadians and is available in both english and french. It is similar to the Degrees Pro app and some of the others on this list. It is also free, despite that it offers in app purchases.
Atmosphérique Pro – Canadian Weather from EC by Quadrant Newmedia Corp.
Radar Eh – Canada radar & alerts app using Environment Canada radar data by Zhao Han
The official Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter Twitter Account
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, W-r100B, EH55VP, WR-120, HH54VP, HH54VP2, ER102, Er300, ER310, EH55VP, Nautico 3, WR-11 and WR-400 are all manufactured by Midland and sold in North America.
Uniden Corporation http://www.Uniden.com
BC75XLT, BC95XLT, BC125AT, BC346XT, BCT15X, BCD996XT, Homepatrol, BC436HP, BC536HP and BCD396XT are currently sold in North America.
Sangean USA http://www.Sangean.com
CL100, DT400,, DT500, MMR88, PR-D4W and PRD9W are manufactured by Sangean and currently sold in North America.
Reecom Electronics Inc
R-1630, R-1650, R-200 and R-500 are manufactured by Reecom and currently sold in North America.
I would like to give special thanks to those who made contributions to this latest issue as follows:
Steve Potter, Keith Jones, Kory Jacobson, Daryl Stout WX4QZ, Brian Rodgers, Bob Robichaud VE1MBR, Midland Radio Corporation, Malcolm Kendal VE3BGD, Jim Langille VE1JBL, Gregory Zwicker, Phil Chadwick and Marc Fitkin for their help and contributions to the newsletter, among others.
Sincerely, Gord The Old Reliable.VA3WXA.