View Full Version : Feds spend $880K on tornado alarm for schools

03-08-2011, 08:20 PM
http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/images/www.stcatharinesstandard.ca.gif (http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/)
Feds spend $880K on tornado alarm for schools

By QMI Agency

OTTAWA – The feds have spent nearly $900,000 on weather alert radios for schools across Canada, a move that has left teachers — and the environment minister — scratching their heads.
An unknown number of schools received $50 desktop tornado early warning systems that were purchased with money from Environment Canada's fund for new search and rescue initiatives. The radio alerts schools to hazardous weather conditions and other emergencies and comes equipped with a snooze-enabled alarm clock.
Bloc Quebecois MP Bernard Bigras, who raised the issue at a Commons committee Tuesday, said at least two Montreal-area schools received the radios.
He said school principals contacted him because they were puzzled about why they'd been sent the device.
"It's a useless expense that should have gone to researchers studying weather in a warming climate," said Bigras.
He wondered why a government wrestling with a $56-billion deficit would drop public funds on such a device.
New Environment Minister Peter Kent was blindsided by Bigras's query.
"I want to investigate. This is new to me," Kent later told reporters.
"I made a commitment that I will take a look at this specific device, how it's been applied and how it will be used."
According to an Environment Canada website, the feds set aside $881,400 to equip schools with the radio receiver.
"This will allow schools, Scouts and Girl Guide leaders to monitor the broadcast for weather information including warnings," the site says.

URL to original: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3011238

03-08-2011, 08:33 PM
Good initiative, *IF* they use them. And good initiative if they use them, *IF* they heed the warnings issued.

But I think the way EC over-issues warnings instead of sticking with watches until they KNOW something is about to happen, I think schools taking action on the warnings won't last long.

Hopefully this year EC will try towards evening up the ratio between warnings issued compared to severe events occurring. In my area, for severe tstorms issued compared to svr tstorms actually happening are about 3:1. Tornado warnings over the last decade are horrid at probably 20:1. Maybe someone with dbase access to ECs warnings could go back and search for # of tornado warnings issued for a their area over a period of time, then try and recall how many actual tornadoes they recall happening for that area.

I'd also like to know the criteria EC uses on what possible tornadoes to go out and confirm and what to ignore. I believe they ignore the Niagara Region as a whole, as a general rule. Anything in the GTA or along the 401 they usually try to confirm or refute. Seems cottage country gets pretty good attention too. But if they're going to feel confident enough to put an entire region under alert, they should show their confidence in their warning issuing by following it up the next day and going out to confirm those tornadoes that they were warning people about. I have no problems with a watch. Even under a severe tstorm with heavy winds whipping around... keep it under a watch. But don't issue that warning until you're sure there's something happening. If they keep with their ways of past issuing, these schools won't even bother turning the radios on in the morning when the office staff arrives. [RANT OFF]

03-08-2011, 08:43 PM
I can think of one time that a weather alert radio could have been handy. The tornado that hit lawfield elementry about a 10min drive from me. There were people in the gym and one person was injured. Although a weather radio would have done no good because there was no tornado warning just a severe thunderstorm warning i beleive. My school would use them and there would be false alarms and the time we would be hit by the tornado is the day that we would have thrown it out:p

03-09-2011, 08:03 AM
Seems like a good idea. Now just to see if they are utilized....

03-09-2011, 10:11 AM
I get so tired and annoyed with Canadian storm ready ignorance.

Before the Aug 2009 outbreak I was for certain under the impression there would be huge reform of weather safety practices in southern Ontario following the next major tornado outbreak. When Aug '09 happened and all the media was reporting the gov't saying a revamp of the tornado warning system is required, and weather radios, tornado sirens, emergency alert systems all dominated the news.. then by Sept the coverage stopped.

Here we are two years and two more major tornado events later, and now that schools are FINALLY equipped with weather radios- ... the media, gov't, and public are just making this way too difficult.

Weather radios one day will save lives in southern Ontario but no one is going to understand that if our media continues to give them a bad reputation. This is probably the third or fourth time they've cropped up in news since last year, and every time the theme of the article seems to focus on why not to get one or why no one has one or that people have them but probably not plugged in.

And, EC is far better than they were say five years ago. We need to understand they are only just finally deploying the Ninjo workstations and are no longer using Windows 98 to make weather forecasts. Give it a few years and some more training and they will catch up with the NWS. It doesn't happen overnight when they have huge budget cuts and under-staffing.

FWIW, in 2007 I proposed to CTV SWO to make a story on weather radios and they had no clue what I was talking about and refused to report on them due to television viewership ratings.

03-09-2011, 03:07 PM
Well said. I totaly agree