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View Full Version : Windsor Star Reporter Disgusted With Environment Canada


Derecho
08-02-2010, 06:55 PM
I have just been informed this is an editorial.

Weather alerts just not working
By Ken Zulian, Windsor Star July 29, 2010

I'm thinking that Environment Canada really needs to upgrade its system or something, or pay attention to what is happening around them.

I'm at work and I notice that I have an email from the Weather Network with a severe thunderstorm watch issued by Environment Canada.

So I go online and check the radar from Wunderground's website and to my disgust again with our weather tracking service here -- seeing that most of southwest Michigan and parts of Ohio just south of us has tornado watches and just close to Toledo has a tornado warning.

I do believe that our local stations should rely on Detroit's weather warnings and we'll be better informed than waiting for Environment Canada to inform us.

It's like the line in a movie, "They don't issue a tornado warning until your house is 100 yards from where it was built."

What I say to Environment Canada is get with the program.

Ken Zulian,

Windsor
Copyright (c) The Windsor Star

Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Weather+alerts+just+working/3334889/story.html#ixzz0vUN1L33X

SlideShowBob
08-04-2010, 04:10 PM
Well, Mr. Zulian, as a "reporter", this editorial has no depth or interesting points; you are feeling the frustration that all of us Canadians feel. Environment Canada is extremely under-funded, under-staffed and over-worked. One can thank the Conservative Government of Brian Mulroney back in the early 1990's (and the cutbacks currently with the present Conservative government, but that's another topic). Not that any other political party has supported them either. It's not the people who work at EC that are the problem...it's the politics, period. We need to send a message to our federal M.P.'s that we need more emphasis (and funding) to allow Environment Canada to do it's job and deliver proper real-time forecasting. It's pathetic that one has to look south of the border to keep informed of threatening weather in our own country. Perhaps this would be a good story to expose to the public, as a reporter, no?

DarkSky
08-05-2010, 01:02 AM
re:
It's like the line in a movie, "They don't issue a tornado warning until your house is 100 yards from where it was built."

Actually for Niagara at least - it's the exact opposite. We get warnings all the time, and it results in nothing. If there's a thunderstorm 50 miles away that MIGHT head this direction, they'll issue a warning. The -possibility- of severe weather is supposed to be what a watch is for, not a warning.

Myself, I'd much rather have a few missed warnings, if it meant every warning that *IS* issued results in a tornado or severe thunderstorm. THEN I would actually heed them. Warnings are issued left, right, and center for my area, and they rarely come to be anything. So it's just a natural response that people ignore them.

THE ENTIRE *REASON* E.C. over-issues warnings (imo) is EXACT BECAUSE of articles like this. You get one guy whining about "why wasn't a warning issued!?" and this makes E.C. issue warnings for almost everything. I can see in the future they'll just issue a severe thunderstorm warning at 12:00am that goes until 11:59pm that night, EVERY day. That way nobody can say they weren't warned if something happens.

[rant off]

People also have to remember, that we have a larger land mass than the U.S. and only 1/10th the population. There's just not enough manpower or ways to pay to get comparable coverage to the US, on every parcel of land in Canada. We're just simply too big and sparsely populated to be able to provide the same kind of meteorological service.

Derecho
08-05-2010, 01:29 AM
re:
It's like the line in a movie, "They don't issue a tornado warning until your house is 100 yards from where it was built."

Actually for Niagara at least - it's the exact opposite. We get warnings all the time, and it results in nothing. If there's a thunderstorm 50 miles away that MIGHT head this direction, they'll issue a warning. The -possibility- of severe weather is supposed to be what a watch is for, not a warning.

Myself, I'd much rather have a few missed warnings, if it meant every warning that *IS* issued results in a tornado or severe thunderstorm. THEN I would actually heed them. Warnings are issued left, right, and center for my area, and they rarely come to be anything. So it's just a natural response that people ignore them.

THE ENTIRE *REASON* E.C. over-issues warnings (imo) is EXACT BECAUSE of articles like this. You get one guy whining about "why wasn't a warning issued!?" and this makes E.C. issue warnings for almost everything. I can see in the future they'll just issue a severe thunderstorm warning at 12:00am that goes until 11:59pm that night, EVERY day. That way nobody can say they weren't warned if something happens.

[rant off]

People also have to remember, that we have a larger land mass than the U.S. and only 1/10th the population. There's just not enough manpower or ways to pay to get comparable coverage to the US, on every parcel of land in Canada. We're just simply too big and sparsely populated to be able to provide the same kind of meteorological service.

They over issue tstorm warnings, but under issue tornado warnings.

Smokin Joe
08-05-2010, 08:57 AM
I would settle for level 3 radar being available free to the public here so those who choose to care have better information. There's no way why we in Canada shouldn't have equal radar to the states available to the public

DarkSky
08-05-2010, 04:22 PM
I would settle for level 3 radar being available free to the public here so those who choose to care have better information. There's no way why we in Canada shouldn't have equal radar to the states available to the public

Good point. Even though E.C. is underfunded for what their jobs encompass, it's still a LOT of money they get.

Making free live hi-resolution radar available to the public would be a small fraction of EC's budget I'm sure. Heck you can get an unmetered 100mbit server for $1500/month. That's only 18 grand a year. A small price to pay to have a dedicated server giving free live radar to the public.

BUT.... it wouldn't do much good as 99.9% of the public aren't going to be watching live radar on their computers whenever storms are approaching. And even if some did, the majority don't know how to predict radar images. So I have to admit, it would be a GREAT idea for US, but wouldn't be cost-effective for what it does.

I've said this before many times - what we need is private radio/tv stations taking more calls in from storm spotters and broadcasting their own warnings. There's a thread here: http://www.ontariostorms.com/showthread.php?t=1 with a list of contacts to the media.

Derecho
08-05-2010, 06:26 PM
Good point. Even though E.C. is underfunded for what their jobs encompass, it's still a LOT of money they get.

Making free live hi-resolution radar available to the public would be a small fraction of EC's budget I'm sure. Heck you can get an unmetered 100mbit server for $1500/month. That's only 18 grand a year. A small price to pay to have a dedicated server giving free live radar to the public.

BUT.... it wouldn't do much good as 99.9% of the public aren't going to be watching live radar on their computers whenever storms are approaching. And even if some did, the majority don't know how to predict radar images. So I have to admit, it would be a GREAT idea for US, but wouldn't be cost-effective for what it does.

I've said this before many times - what we need is private radio/tv stations taking more calls in from storm spotters and broadcasting their own warnings. There's a thread here: http://www.ontariostorms.com/showthread.php?t=1 with a list of contacts to the media.

EC's budget was slashed numerous times in the 90s, then the Liberal government closed ten or so weather offices, thus combing it all into seven offices, now eight I believe. There are thousands of employees working for Environment Canada, but there are only a couple dozen actual meteorologists, about 5-20 per office. The 2008 federal audit of EC revealed budget issues, useless spending, etc. The report is public on the government of Canada website.

I'm in such a rush right now, about to leave for the cottage trip, so here are some key points things:

-The weather offices are building work stations similar to the NWS.
- Serious under-staffing issues at each office for trained employees or employees to train new people.
- Intense work loads on actual meteorologists due to under-staffing
- More funding being instated to bring in up to date modern tracking tools and computers + to hire new meteorologists
- EC uses outdated technology

Stuff like that

Nagii
08-17-2010, 08:31 PM
I agree with this reporter. You can't rely on EC or TWS for anything. I wouldn't trust them with my safety or life. They issues watches to save their arses, never upgrade them promptly. That storm on Sunday remained a watch until 20mins after I suffered wind damage, then it was Severe Thunderstorm Warning, the cell had already passed. I'm starting to wonder if anyone is actually working there or if it takes any sort of certification to work there.

seppi519
03-26-2011, 12:55 PM
well to be honest its not like Environment Canada is doing the best to get the watches and warnings out its like a game of guess where the storms are gonna pop up and lets just put a watch out and see what happens most of the time its nothing but a few clouds over head. We should (like the US) have t.v. sponsored and trained chasers and spotters as well as trained recreational chasers that can call in and report with out getting hassled i have my level one certification for the states spotter network with ID that allows me to call in and report weather and i give my ID and any false claims i get my ID number revoked and i can't report.
Cause lets face it, people who enjoy chasing pay more close attention to the radar and weather outside then those getting paid to do so cause well all in all it becomes a job and there for you get sick of said job. but i could be wrong with that last statement because i do not know the inner workings of EC and how often they have someone sitting at the computer watching the 10min loop radar.

ParkingLot
03-26-2011, 05:07 PM
We DO have CANWARN (which i'm a volunteer of) so it's not like we have nothing....
However improvements can always be made....

DarkSky
03-26-2011, 09:00 PM
I agree that EC is doing the best job they can with the resources they have. 'Just gotta stop jumping the gun when it comes to releasing warnings. More people will start heeding the warnings when more result in positive events.

Sent from my Motorola Droid using TapaTalk.

seppi519
03-29-2011, 03:12 AM
We DO have CANWARN (which i'm a volunteer of) so it's not like we have nothing....
However improvements can always be made....

i understand we have canwarn but that is volunteer like you said, and since you are a volunteer then i am also aware you have a real job for income.(i am not trying to be an ass about it) Though i am sure if some one were to have a job reporting on the weather then it would be more up to the minute and lets face it the weather is only going to get worse and it is going to be a matter of time before Ontario or somewhere else in Canada gets hit with another killer tornado and the warning will not be there, i think that the media has to step up and that is including the weather network and put some spotters and chasers out there its the safety of our lives and when it comes down to it i am glad i took this up as a hobby cause to be honest i can protect my loved better then what they can

SlideShowBob
03-29-2011, 01:43 PM
I've been a Spotter for EC since 1983 and TWN since around 2000 (Extreme Weather Team). The Weather Network has been working on the All Channel Alert system and was supposed to go online in 2010 http://alerts.pelmorex.com/en/, yet we are still waiting. If any chasers/spotters want to help TWN, call in and identfy yourself as a spotter, or register to be an Extreme Weather Team member. Contact Pelmorex and offer your services. They in turn will alert EC to issue any warnings. That's the only way (right now) that I can think to spearhead this concern.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't blame EC for this. Blame the government in general. Write your M.P.'s (after the election, of course) and let's start putting the "heat" on those who make the $$$ decisions to update EC.
Finally, it really is up to the individual to be weather smart. After the 2009 outbreak, the premier of Ontario complained there wasn't enough done to warn everyone. Yet Alberta has a system already in place (thanks to the 1987 Edmonton tornadoes). So, why is Ontario still in the lurch? Why do people still think that tornadoes only occur in the states? One can only guess.

DarkSky
03-29-2011, 10:56 PM
Actually we've got a thread located here (http://www.ontariostorms.com/showpost.php?p=47&postcount=2) with a list of phone numbers people can call in if they witness severe weather. EC has a storm spotter line, but it's nice to also have that list to report directly to those who can broadcast the warning. Cheers!

Derecho
03-30-2011, 01:44 PM
I've been a Spotter for EC since 1983 and TWN since around 2000 (Extreme Weather Team). The Weather Network has been working on the All Channel Alert system and was supposed to go online in 2010 http://alerts.pelmorex.com/en/, yet we are still waiting.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't blame EC for this. Blame the government in general. Write your M.P.'s (after the election, of course) and let's start putting the "heat" on those who make the $$$ decisions to update EC.
Finally, it really is up to the individual to be weather smart. After the 2009 outbreak, the premier of Ontario complained there wasn't enough done to warn everyone. Yet Alberta has a system already in place (thanks to the 1987 Edmonton tornadoes). So, why is Ontario still in the lurch? Why do people still think that tornadoes only occur in the states? One can only guess.

The All Channel Alert is operation and broadcasting emergency messages in Ontario as of last week.

Write your M.P.'s, ABSOLUTELY! But, after the election, yes. The Conservatives gave Environment Canada a $27million funding boast in the 2011 budget, but just our luck Iggy, Layton, and Duceppe struck the budget down and collapsed the government. If the Conservatives get back in, we have to push support for that funding increase. If the Liberals win, it's going to be tough to get them to take action especially since they were the ones that slashed EC's budget in half and closed most of the weather forecast offices.

The Premier and Emergency Management Ontario devised the "Red Alert" system following 2009. EMO issues red alerts when there is danger to the public including tornadoes. EMO will be using the ACA to broadcast red alerts on radio and tv from now on. I personally think red alerts should be for non-meteorological emergencies only. We have the tornado warning system so I don't know why we need a red alert system for a tornado.

Actually we've got a thread located here (http://www.ontariostorms.com/showpost.php?p=47&postcount=2) with a list of phone numbers people can call in if they witness severe weather. EC has a storm spotter line, but it's nice to also have that list to report directly to those who can broadcast the warning. Cheers!

I have a list of phone numbers to call if I ever spotted severe weather. First call would be to EC, then going down the list is local radio and tv, etc. Best to keep close to those sources who can reach a wide range of people within seconds.

SlideShowBob
04-02-2011, 12:55 AM
I'm trying my best (as we all are) to inform our family and friends about how quickly the weather can change. As we all know, by the time an event starts untill the public is warned, there is a gap. At least with technology, things have sped up....better connections plus a "trust" factor and increased number of spotters (and cell phones). However, there is a considerable time gap between EC and the media before the unaware public gets the warning. Hopefully the ACA is accurate enough to win the public's trust.

TJCams
04-05-2011, 04:41 PM
I think plain and simple - there are certain areas of Canada/Ontario (especially SW Ontario) that need tornado sirens. Palmorex and the Weather Network warning systems are fine, if you have cable/satellite, and are watching it at the time. Use this past summer as an example. Multiple tornados (4 I believe confirmed) touched down in southern Essex County/Leamington area in the middle of the night. What good does a scrolling warning do if you are in bed?

Being a Windsor resident, I am blessed with having access to Detroit TV broadcasts - which give much better warnings than we could ever except in Windsor from EC. Plus, if you have satellite and it's raining hard enough - you lose the signal anyways.

Invest in a SAME technology weather radio.

Derecho
04-05-2011, 04:58 PM
I think plain and simple - there are certain areas of Canada/Ontario (especially SW Ontario) that need tornado sirens. Palmorex and the Weather Network warning systems are fine, if you have cable/satellite, and are watching it at the time. Use this past summer as an example. Multiple tornados (4 I believe confirmed) touched down in southern Essex County/Leamington area in the middle of the night. What good does a scrolling warning do if you are in bed?

Being a Windsor resident, I am blessed with having access to Detroit TV broadcasts - which give much better warnings than we could ever except in Windsor from EC. Plus, if you have satellite and it's raining hard enough - you lose the signal anyways.

Invest in a SAME technology weather radio.

I firmly believe it should be law that all households and businesses should have a weather radio, much like they already have a fire alarm system.

I also firmly believe our government, emergency management agency, weather office, and broadcast media are not doing enough, if anything at all, to advertise and promote weather radios.

But hey, at least we can now finally say we have an emergency warning system in place. Last week I spoke with Windsor EMA and they said they cannot afford to install tornado sirens yet in the city. The money issue tends to repeat itself from municipality to municipality, very few can afford to install a siren system without financial assistance. Too bad our provincial government won't pitch in funds like FEMA does in the USA. Maybe someday that'll change, though. Sirens are definitely needed in city and provincial parks at least. Places were a lot of people are outside and away from tv and radio to receive warnings. Especially in campgrounds.

TJCams
04-05-2011, 05:20 PM
It seem though a lot of places selling the good SAME weather radios aren't allowed to ship to Canada. I got my Midland on Amazon, and was lucky that I have a place in Detroit through work I had it shipped to, and then brought it over no problem. Best $30 or so I spent in terms of it going off like crazy all summer after I purchased it. Sure, it's scary kind of when the siren goes off at 3AM, but I'd rather be prepared, and warned. Plus, the SAME technology is standard, so you can input Canadian location codes into the radio.

I don't think you could come up with a law making them mandatory, but it wouldn't hurt to get the word out. They aren't expensive, and are worth the investment.

I wrote my MPs, city officials, county officials, and many were stating the fact the government disabled, and torn down any air raid sirens that existed (from the cold war threat), etc. Vic Toews (Public Safety Minister) wrote me a letter (kind of neat!), and basically stated the Palmorex warning system. Again, this is fine if you are tuned in to something carrying the warning, but otherwise it is totally useless. Again, thank you Chuck Gaidica and WDIV weather team for keeping Windsor informed/warned, and thank you NWS/SPC for having virtually real time tracking available.

Apparently in some parts of Essex County (Amherstburg probably), you can hear the tornado sirens across the river in Michigan when they are sounded.

Wouldn't this be kind of a priority for public safety? Sure it's very regional, but 1 major tornado overnight, or when groups are outside, and fatalities occur - it's worth it??? I can see the future headline now: "Windsor - Essex to install tornado sirens in response to fatal tornado outbreak"

SlideShowBob
04-05-2011, 08:14 PM
The whole problem with radios and the warning system is that the general public is still not aware of the potential for tornadic activity here in Canada. Any time a tornado touches down in this province, it still amazes me that the stories I read always has some bumpkin stating, "I thought they only occur in the States." There is a serious lack of awareness in this country, so mandating radios to people who are too dumb to use them will not save them. Look at how many fires have killed people because they disconnected the smoke detectors; or the fire marshal determines the smoke detectors were not functioning due to lack of maintenance/no batteries, etc. Yet it is the "law"; however, technology cannot prevent someone who is not aware to begin with. We all are aware on this board, but are your neighbours/friends/family?
I have stated before, it does not matter how much $$$ you put into a system; someone, somewhere will not get the message because they do not care to be informed. There is nothing we can do for these people...there is no such thing as foolproof. Yet, these same people are the first ones to cry, "The government needs to save us" whenever something happens. Remember the episode of the Simpsons with the "Bear Tax"?
There is a reason why Emergency Preparedness Canada tells us to be self-sufficient for up to 72 hours for anything that happens. If one chooses not to be aware of the weather, with all of the information sources available now (internet, media, phone apps, weatheradio), then nothing else will make them aware.
I bought an ETON FR-600 battery/solar/AC/hand-crank (with flashlight) SW radio with SAME technology at the Source for about $70. Best investment I ever made -even if the power goes out, I have access to information. I do not need a multi-million dollar system that is prone to the cry-wolf syndrome.
Just my 2 cents....

Derecho
04-05-2011, 08:40 PM
Can't just not do anything because some people are ignorant.

After the severe weather of the last few years I'd generally say the public has a more heightened awareness of tornadoes around here. I imagine this years emergency preparedness week may be more publicized by the media than it has been in previous years.

seppi519
04-06-2011, 08:14 AM
Can't just not do anything because some people are ignorant.

After the severe weather of the last few years I'd generally say the public has a more heightened awareness of tornadoes around here. I imagine this years emergency preparedness week may be more publicized by the media than it has been in previous years.


i agree fully with this that it will be more publicized, but at the same time i think that its gonna take a devastating event to really catch the eyes of the government in order to actually get a fire lit under there butts and think well yeah maybe we should have done something i hope that it really doesn't come down to that but lets be honest that's what is probably gonna take. It is only a matter of time before we get struck with a EF3-5 and it causes huge amounts of property and bodily damage and god forbid loss of life, we are getting up there in the statistics, just like the southern states i was watching a documentary on Dallas Fort Worth tornado and gets 100+ touch downs a season, and we get 10% of that if you look at it percentage wise and they are just waiting for that one to come ripping though.