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View Full Version : Canada's Emergency Alert System up by June 2010


Derecho
03-15-2010, 01:53 PM
According to Pelmorex, the new Canadian All Channel alert National Public alerting System(ACA/NPAS) will be up and running by June 2010.

http://www.allchannelalert.com
http://www.capan.ca/

Looks like it'll interrupt cable, satellite tv and radio in affected regions every ten minutes, it will go off when there is an official update and it will go off for all clears. Also, appears a similar tone to the American EAS will be used.

DarkSky
03-15-2010, 07:22 PM
Ooohh NOOOOO! There was a huge debate about this on a weather email list awhile back.

As much as the intentions of such a system are good, the system itself will destroy what it's meant to do. I don't mean to knock E.C. here - they're doing the best they can with what they have - but I can't remember a tornado ever going through my neighborhood, yet we've had LOTS of tornado warnings. Not to mention, a LOT of the time, severe thunderstorm warnings are issued when there's blue skies out, sometimes even on cloudless days.

I've always had a problem with the way EC has always jumped the gun when releasing watches and warnings (or as far as I can remember at least, and that's going back 10yrs since I became interested in severe wx) . They've cried wolf for years and people just don't heed the warnings anymore.

They send out the warnings in an attempt to help people's safety, but in effect, they've made the warning system completely useless due to over-issuing those warnings.

EC is going to have to decide in the near future, whether the point of issuing a warning is to provide public safety, or to cover their butts (if a severe event DID occur, at least they could say there was a warning out for it and people couldn't blame EC for not warning them). By over-issuing warnings, they're covering their butts but are NOT helping the public at all. I know this sounds harsh, and I apologize. This is in no way intended to throw insults at anyone who works for EC.

My point to all this is... if they're going to start putting the warnings on TV, THEY BETTER DARN WELL BE ACCURATE.

Save the warnings for that they're defined to be: IMMINENT OR ALREADY OCCURRING. Otherwise issue a watch and leave it until confirmation of something happening. No, radar is not confirmation!

On the flipside, this could really be a way to restore public opinion on the warnings. Put a watch up if there's a chance, change to a warning if confirmation of something happening. Do that and people will always heed the warnings.

Derecho
03-16-2010, 01:50 PM
I'm going to try to make some sense but I'm pretty hungover right now :-)

In the 2008 audit of EC it was discovered that each office wasn't recording which watches/warnings verified and which didn't. The government wanted to know how well of a job they were doing to see if funding/training needed to be increased and EC couldn't prove that they needed higher funding/training because they weren't keeping records of areas they needed to work on. The feds told them they need to start a database and fill it over the years with what verifies and what does not. So, there's a bit of change.

Also, for the past ten years EC has been developing a hightech work station that was supposed to be finished something like two years ago. They currently use basic tools, etc, but this work station is similar to the NWS computers etc and EC says it will greatly improve accuracy of forecasts and warnings because it will allow the forecaster to get a MUCH better look into storms, etc. I think the audit stated it will be up and running within a few years. The feds wanted to know why if was taking to so long put together and I can't remember the reason.

The feds also asked EC what they could do to better the safety of Canadians and EC said they wanted an emergency alert system. With this system I'm assuming EC and Pelmorex will work together to change the warning system. No more four or five paragraph warning texts and hopefully EC will go to storm-based warnings but that might be too much to ask. The last we want is EC to broadcast warnings that will be played on our TVs in english and french that take ten minutes because the text includes statements on all warnings from Ottawa to Windsor.

DarkSky
03-18-2010, 01:19 AM
I just don't see how an emergency alert system is going to help anyone. They have to FIRST work on getting the warnings WAY more accurate than they are now, before they even think of blasting the TV screens with them.

If it's in the form of better training, I'm all for it. More equipment out in the field, or a more organized computer network, I'm for spending my tax dollars on it. But someway somehow we need to get rid of all the false warnings, which in some areas make up for 100% of the warnings issued. It's not EC's fault, they're doing their best. But for everyone's sake, if they're not SURE there's a tornado on the ground, or a severe tstorm taking place, don't issue a warning for it!!

SlideShowBob
03-18-2010, 11:53 AM
There are certainly going to be a "phasing in period" when they have to do testing, etc. I imagine many people will be ticked off while the tests take place. I know EC is trying thier best under difficult circumstances; at least the Weather Network is helping them. The cry wolf syndrome will play itself out. But what else can one do to alert the masses when a storm does form? We all know the difficulties associated with real-time storm warnings...often the storm fizzles out long before the warning gets out; if it even happens.
People have to understand that it is thier own responsibility to keep updated on the weather conditions. Not EC, not Pelmorex, not the municipal, provincial or federal governments...I would like to see more commercials on regular television and radio ads that inform people that yes, in Canada, we get tornadoes; so be prepared, be aware.

Storm Ham
03-18-2010, 09:09 PM
DarkSky you mention in your first reply to this thread “ They've cried wolf for years and people just don't heed the warnings anymore”. It may be true for your area but not for mine. It must be a nightmare to forecast weather in your area, with Lake Eire to South and West and Ontario to the North and East. When a watch or warning is issued for the my area they are quit accurate. I have seen blue skies to the south and black skies to the north. Lake Ontario has a major effect on the systems that pass though. Sure they generalise for a large area, but to forecast for every town would be impossible. I also spend time in the Wilberforce and Bancroft area. Up there in the summer when a watch is issued we are watching. The storms I have experienced come up fast and intense.

You also mention “before they even think of blasting the TV screens with them.” I would assume the announcement would be much like the US. It starts with a few tones and then a scrolling message across the bottom of the screen.

Derecho
03-18-2010, 11:33 PM
DarkSky you mention in your first reply to this thread “ They've cried wolf for years and people just don't heed the warnings anymore”. It may be true for your area but not for mine. It must be a nightmare to forecast weather in your area, with Lake Eire to South and West and Ontario to the North and East. When a watch or warning is issued for the my area they are quit accurate. I have seen blue skies to the south and black skies to the north. Lake Ontario has a major effect on the systems that pass though. Sure they generalise for a large area, but to forecast for every town would be impossible. I also spend time in the Wilberforce and Bancroft area. Up there in the summer when a watch is issued we are watching. The storms I have experienced come up fast and intense.

You also mention “before they even think of blasting the TV screens with them.” I would assume the announcement would be much like the US. It starts with a few tones and then a scrolling message across the bottom of the screen.

It's so hard to tell, really. EC accuracy appears to be improving as years go by. Five to ten years ago, it felt like every storm had a warning thrown on it and only a handful of those storms actually verified.

Lately, feels like less warnings are issued and most of those instances verify from what I see on the news for Southwestern Ontario. But, also feels there is an equal amount of instances where no warning was issued at all and severe elements occured.

Between 2006-2007 it felt like a lot of storm-based warnings were issued, except for Sundays. Also, I seem to recall a lot of tornado warnings were issued based off of strong rotation indicated by weather radar. At one point I had a chat with an EC meteorologist and the consensus was this was a serious improvement. Then in 2008-2009 the state of the warnings seemed to slide. Now EC doesn't appear to issue radar indicated tornadoes the last few years and it feels like many go without a warning.

I feel if EC can go back to how they operated for the two year 2006-2007 period and make an effort to do their best, this emergency alert system might work for the better.

DarkSky
03-19-2010, 12:19 AM
DarkSky you mention in your first reply to this thread “ They've cried wolf for years and people just don't heed the warnings anymore”. It may be true for your area but not for mine. It must be a nightmare to forecast weather in your area, with Lake Eire to South and West and Ontario to the North and East. When a watch or warning is issued for the my area they are quit accurate. I have seen blue skies to the south and black skies to the north. Lake Ontario has a major effect on the systems that pass though. Sure they generalise for a large area, but to forecast for every town would be impossible. I also spend time in the Wilberforce and Bancroft area. Up there in the summer when a watch is issued we are watching. The storms I have experienced come up fast and intense.

You also mention “before they even think of blasting the TV screens with them.” I would assume the announcement would be much like the US. It starts with a few tones and then a scrolling message across the bottom of the screen.

Yes it could just be my area. I realize Niagara, especially below the escarpment, is a very strange environment in itself. We're wedged in between two great lakes, with massive humidity buildup because there's a huge wall (the escarpment) lining northern Niagara that traps that moist air in. I just wish they'd wait for confirmation before issuing warnings. Leave it as a watch until otherwise noted.

I'm just really scared that for my area at least, too many false warnings will have people complaining very quickly. I'm a firm believer that it's better to MISS a warning then to over-issue them which effectively makes ALL of them useless since people won't heed any of them after awhile.

But like you said, maybe it's just this area. Hopefully when a tornado warning is issued in other areas of the province, there area actually tornadoes. People will continue to heed the warnings as long as they're backed up by results.

Derecho
03-19-2010, 01:05 AM
Yes it could just be my area. I realize Niagara, especially below the escarpment, is a very strange environment in itself. We're wedged in between two great lakes, with massive humidity buildup because there's a huge wall (the escarpment) lining northern Niagara that traps that moist air in. I just wish they'd wait for confirmation before issuing warnings. Leave it as a watch until otherwise noted.

I'm just really scared that for my area at least, too many false warnings will have people complaining very quickly. I'm a firm believer that it's better to MISS a warning then to over-issue them which effectively makes ALL of them useless since people won't heed any of them after awhile.

But like you said, maybe it's just this area. Hopefully when a tornado warning is issued in other areas of the province, there area actually tornadoes. People will continue to heed the warnings as long as they're backed up by results.

As I had aforementioned about the EC audit, it does look hopeful for change.

In fact, here's the entire copy of the audit:
http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_200812_02_e_31819.html