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Weatheradio Canada

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Weatheradio Canada
Radiométéo Canada
Type Weather radio service
Branding Weatheradio Canada
Radiométéo Canada
Country  Canada
Availability  Canada
 United States (Within transmitter rage)
Founded 1976 (42 years ago)
by Meteorological Service of Canada
Radio stations List of Stations (Weatheradio Canada)
Owner Environment and Climate Change Canada
Launch date
1976 (42 years ago)
Official website
www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/weatheradio.html
Notes
Environment Canada urges Canadians to own a Weather Radio for severe weather [1]

Weatheradio Canada (French: Radiométéo Canada) is a nationwide network of VHF FM radio stations broadcasting weather forecasts, current conditions, marine forecasts, and weather alerts 24 hours a day in both official languages. From its inception in 1977, the network has expanded to 180 sites across the country, transmitting continuous weather information on 7 dedicated frequencies on the VHF public service band, and 7 standard AM/FM channels as noted below. 92% of Canadians are with in range of a weatheradio signal, however those who live in areas that the signal can not reach, some low powered radio stations broadcast weatheradio via conventional radio where a special receiver is not required. Weatheradio Canada like their telephone service, uses the Starcaster Text to Speech (TTS), which has been used for many years and is owned by StarCaster TTS.

The Network[edit]

The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) operates the Weatheradio Canada network. The majority of these stations broadcast on the VHF band to permit the transmission of a 1050 Hz tone that will trigger a Weatheradio receiver's internal alert system that is capable of waking up to this signal. This warning tone is broadcast ahead of a warning message to activate Weatheradios upon receipt, but is intended to be used to the severest of weather alerts. New Weatheradio receivers now use SAME codes instead as the trigger to activate the alarm features, Environment and Climate Change Canada has converted the network to utilize SAME codes. By broadcasting these codes, those users who purchase a new Weatheradio will not only be able to receive the audio signal, but will receive emergency messages and the full functionality of the warning device unit, such as the ability to pre-select which warnings to receive, however some warnings can not be disabled such as a Tornado Warning. For users who have older Weatheradio models, these units will continue to receive the full range of weather watches, advisories and warnings as in the past. However, they will not be able to take advantage of the enhanced options offered by a Weatheradio with SAME decoding capability.

See Also Canadian Location Code

Weatheradio Canada Videos[edit]

A Severe Thunderstorm using SAME technology.

History[edit]

  • In 1976, Meteorological Service of Canada Weatheradio's service was launched and expanded to 30 locations in roughly 10 years. In the early-1990s, increased government investment permitted major expansion of the network to the present size of 179 sites.
  • In 1992, the network added the functionality of transmitting a data burst that was embedded in the audio signal. This service was called Weathercopy and focused on clients who required hard copies of weather warnings or desired hard copy custom weather products. In addition, the Weathercopy receivers were addressable and could be targeted to receive special weather forecast products and graphics. Dissemination technology evolved and similar, faster, delivery solutions were available to key clients thus leading to the Weathercopy service being decommissioned in 2003. Currently, there are six major weather offices in Canada that share the responsibility to ensure that all weather forecasts and warnings are broadcasting at each Weatheradio location. The Weatheradio network has 185 transmitter sites and approximately 92 percent of Canadians can access the Weatheradio signal.
  • In January 2004, the Minister of Environment Canada announced the Weatheradio network would add SAME functionality. The entire network conversion is expected to take one year but selected sites will begin broadcasting the codes by Fall 2004. Environment Canada is partnering with Industry Canada to develop the protocol for the delivery of non-weather alert messaging, which will be established by 2005.
  • In 2017, The Meteorological Service of Canada started testing new voices to be used in the near future. This test was performed in select cities.

Testing[edit]

Like their counterpart the NOAA Weather Radio, Meteorological Service of Canada conducts a weekly test of the network every Wednesday near noon local time, which is known as a Required Weekly Test. This test ensures the network is able to send data to a transmitter, the transmitter can receive and re-broadcast that signal to radios in range. Also, this allows users to confirm their radios are in working order, and failure to activate to the test procedure may mean a radio replacement or servicing may be required, this of course depending the actual test was successful.

There is a secondary test on the first Wednesday of each month called the Required Monthly Test, which follows the Required Weekly Test noted above. Typically, the RMT will begin with the 1050Hz tone to activate older radios that can not activate for the SAME feature first, or radios that do activate for both the 1050hz tone and SAME, followed by SAME to activate radios that do activate for SAME.

Generally, the each test is SAME timed for one hour. Those with the special SAME radio, the color coded light will remain illuminated for one hour following either test noted above. It's important to note that these tests are separate from Alert Ready and, unlike NOAA Weather Radio, Weatheradio Canada does not broadcast their tests via TV and radio except for the conventional AM/FM noted in this article.

Facts[edit]

  • Most Weatheradio transmitters broadcast on the VHF public service band using one of 7 frequencies: 162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, or 162.550 MHz. [2]
  • The average range for reception of the broadcast signal is about 60 km from the transmitter site but can vary according to terrain. At a few locations, low power broadcasts without the alert tone or SAME codes are transmitted on the regular FM or AM band and can be heard using an ordinary radio. [3]
  • In Canada, there are a total of 180 Weatheradio transmitters-- 168 on VHF frequencies and 12 on regular AM or FM bands. If severe weather threatens, public safety experts agree that seconds count to save lives. With an alert-capable Weatheradio, the device will automatically activate a visual or audible alarm for toned weather warnings, reducing the risk of the warning being missed. [4]
  • A newer model of Weatheradio receiver with a decoder for Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) messages will screen out warnings that don't apply to the local area, alerting only for pre-programmed events. [5]
  • Weatheradio is no longer just about weather - it is evolving into an "all-hazards" alert system. Warnings for non-weather related natural disasters, technological accidents, AMBER alerts and terrorist attacks will eventually be added to the broadcasts. SAME technology will make this all possible. [6]
  • Weatheradio is not just for emergencies either -- it provides continuous access to current conditions and weather forecasts as well as any severe weather watches and warnings that may be in effect. [7]
  • Tests are conducted monthly on the tone alert feature around noon on the first Wednesday of each month, to provide an opportunity for listeners to ensure that their equipment is in good working order.
Weatheradio Canada coverage map

SAME[edit]

This is how the SAME feature is used and heard on Weatheradio Canada.

(Preamble) ZCZC-ORG-EEE-PSSCCC-PSSCCC+TTTT-JJJHHMM-LLLLLLLL(one second pause)

(Preamble) ZCZC-ORG-EEE-PSSCCC-PSSCCC+TTTT-JJJHHMM-LLLLLLLL(one second pause)

(Preamble) ZCZC-ORG-EEE-PSSCCC-PSSCCC+TTTT-JJJHHMM-LLLLLLLL(one to three second pause)

1050 Hz Warning Alarm Tone for 8 to 10 seconds - (may be issued before the SAME headers, and or following the SAME header)

Voice message (advising there is a significant weather bulletin)

(one second pause) (Preamble) NNNN

(one second pause) (Preamble) NNNN

(one second pause) (Preamble) NNNN

Broadcast of weather alert (This is always broadcasted after the End of Message or EOM, whereas this would be broadcasted before the End of Message or EOM.)

Public Alert[edit]

Public Alert certified logo


In November 2002, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Weather Service (NWS) contacted the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to determine if CEA had any interest in joining with NWS in developing a national standard for NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) receivers. In February 2003 the CEA and NWS convened a Discovery Group of interested parties to investigate the need for a new standard for NWR receivers. By the end of February 2003, CEA's R3 Committee had approved the development of a voluntary industry. Standard defining minimum performance criteria for consumer electronics products designed to receive Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alert signals broadcast by the NWR network and Environment Canada's Meteorological Service of Canada Weatheradio network.

In December 2003, the CEA Standard, Receiver Performance Specification for Public Alert Receivers, CEA-2009 was approved by the Audio Systems Committee. A CEA Special Interest Group - an alliance of interested manufacturers and government agencies - created the corresponding Public AlertTM Certification and Logo Program and identified April 5, 2004, as the official launch date for the initiative. Members of the alliance include manufacturers and marketers of Public Alert devices, NOAA, NWS, Environment Canada and the CEA.

The purpose of the Public Alert program is to draw attention to new and existing devices and establish standards to improve public confidence in those devices. The CEA Public Alert Certification logo will appear on products at retail stores beginning in April 2004. The certification and technical standards for industry-defined Public Alert devices have been approved by key federal agencies in the U.S. and Canada.

Common Alerts[edit]

This list only shows weather alerts using SAME technology only. Alerts using the 1050Hz tone are excluded however, SAME alerts using the 1050Hz in conjunction with one another is listed here. Definitions for the SAME event is located below this chart. For all alerts issued by the Meteorological Service of Canada refer to Meteorological Service of Canada Weather Alerts.

SAME codes currently in use
Event name Code Description
Dust Storm Warning DSW A warning issued by Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) when a prolonged period of reduced visibility caused by blowing dust (of one hour or more) is expected to occur, is imminent, or is occurring. (Alberta Only)
Tornado Watch TOA A watch is issued when conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms with one or more tornadoes.
Tornado Warning TOR A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been reported; or when there is evidence based on radar, or from a reliable spotter that a tornado is imminent.
Wind Warning HWW A warning is issued when winds 70 km/h or more sustained wind;and/or Gusts to 90 km/h or more.

Nationally Except: Alberta 80 km/h or more sustained wind; and/or Gusts to 100 km/h or more.
Newfoundland and Labrador, including: Wreckhouse Winds (The warning covers only the Wreckhouse area of the West Coast of Newfoundland),
Yukon: Dempster,
British Columbia: Western Vancouver Island, Except: British Columbia North Vancouver Island Central Coast - coastal sections North Coast - coastal sections Haida Gwaii
Tsunami Advisory N/A A tsunami advisory indicates a tsunami with the potential to produce strong currents or waves and is dangerous to those in or very near the water is imminent, expected, or occurring. Large inundations are not expected in areas under advisory status.
Note: Tsunami advisories are issued in partnership with provincial and federal organizations in response to a message from the National Tsunami Warning Center.
Tsunami Watch TSA A tsunami watch is an early alert issued to areas which may later be impacted by a tsunami.
Note: Tsunami watches are issued in partnership with provincial and federal organizations in response to a mesage from the National Tsunami Warning Center.
Tsunami Warning TSW A tsunami warning indicates that a tsunami is imminent, expected, or occurring and that coastal locations in the warned area should expect widespread flooding. Note: Tsunami warnings are issued in partnership with provincial and federal organizations in response to a mesage from the National Tsunami Warning Center.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch SVA A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Watches are usually in effect for several hours, with six hours being the most common.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning SVR Is issued when there is evidence based on radar, satellite pictures, or from a reliable spotter that any one or more of the following three weather conditions is imminent or occurring:

Wind gusts of 90 km/h or greater, which could cause structural wind damage; Hail of two centimeters (cm) or larger in diameter; or Heavy rainfall, as per rainfall criteria, excluding those for winter and during thaw

Flash Freeze Warning FSW When significant ice is expected to form on roads, sidewalks or other surfaces over much of a region because of the freezing of residual water from either melted snow, or falling/fallen rain due to a rapid drop in temperatures. Does not apply to Nunavik.
Winter Storm Warning WSW Applies to the following Alerts: Winter Storm Warning, Snowfall Warning, Freezing Rain Warning, Snowquall Warning.
A Warning when conditions are favourable for the development of severe and potentially dangerous winter weather, including: A blizzard; A major snowfall (25 cm or more within a 24 hour period); and a significant snowfall (snowfall warning criteria amounts) combined with other winter weather hazard types such as: freezing rain, rainfall (over coastal BC only), strong winds, blowing snow and/or extreme wind chill.
Blizzard Watch BZA An announcement for specific areas that blizzard conditions are possible.
Blizzard Warning BZW National: A warning that sustained winds of 40 km/hr or greater are expected to cause widespread reductions in visibility to 400 metres or less, due to blowing snow, or blowing snow in combination with falling snow, for at least 4 hours.
North of the tree line: A warning that sustained winds of 40 km/hr or greater are expected to cause widespread reductions in visibility to 400 metres or less, due to blowing snow, or blowing snow in combination with falling snow, for at least 6 hours.
Tropical Storm Watch TRA When, within the following 36 hours, a tropical storm or a developing tropical storm is expected to pose a possible threat, with the risk of tropical-storm force winds (average sustained winds of 63-117 km/h) threatening the area. This watch could be issued for: A tropical storm; or a hurricane that might approach an area but be far enough away that it is expected to bring gales that are less than hurricane force (118 km/h or higher).
Tropical Storm Warning TRW A warning When coastal and/or coastal winds of 63 to 117 km/h caused by a tropical cyclone are expected to occur.
Hurricane Watch HUA When, within the following 36 hours, a hurricane or a developing hurricane is expected to pose a possible threat, with the risk of hurricane force winds (average sustained winds of 118 km/h or higher) threatening the area.
Hurricane Warning HUW When, within the next 24 hours, a hurricane is expected to pose a threat, with hurricane force winds in the warning area
Required Weekly Test RWT A test conducted each Wednesday near noon.
Required Monthly Test RMT A test conducted on the first Wednesday of each month. This test is conducted following the Required Weekly Test.
Severe Weather Statement SVS TBA
Unrecognized Emergency  ??E N/A
Unrecognized Watch  ??A N/A
Unrecognized Statement  ??S N/A
Unrecognized Warning  ??W N/A
Special Marine Warning SMW TBA
Third Letter Event Category Description
W Warning A type of alert where a hazardous weather or environmental event that poses a significant threat to public safety and property is certain or imminent.
A Watch A type of alert where conditions are favourable for the development of weather or an environmental hazard that poses a significant threat to public safety and property, but the occurrence, location, and/or timing of the expected hazardous condition(s) is still too uncertain to issue a warning. It is intended to heighten public awareness of the potential impact of the event, and serves as a lead-up to a warning.
S Advisory A type of alert where a certain weather or environmental hazard (for example air quality, humidex, and fog) is either occurring, imminent or is expected to occur.
N/A Test An event code currently being tested for broadcast use.
E Emergency N/A

Future Codes for Implementation[edit]

These alerts do not have an official criteria by Environment and Climate Change Canada as they are not implemented at this time. Definitions or criteria's used by the National Weather Service is not listed here, as they have different criteria's for issuing such alerts.

SAME Codes available for future use. [8]
Event name Code Description
Avalanche Watch AVA TBA
Avalanche Warning AVW TBA
Biological Hazard Warning BHW TBA
Boil Water Warning BWW TBA
Child Abduction Warning CAE TBA
Civil Danger Warning CDW TBA
Civil Emergency Warning CEM TBA
Coastal Flood Watch CFA TBA
Coastal Flood Warning CFW TBA
Chemical Hazard Warning CHW TBA
Contaminated Water Warning CWW TBA
Dam Watch DBA TBA
Dam Break Warning DBW TBA
Contagious Disease Warning DEW TBA
Emergency Action Notification EAN TBA
Emergency Action Termination EAT TBA
Earthquake Warning EQW TBA
Evacuation Watch EVA TBA
Immediate Evacuation EVI TBA
Food Contamination Warning FCW TBA
Flash Flood Watch FFA TBA
Flash Flood Statement FFS TBA
Flash Flood Warning FFW TBA
Flood Watch FLA TBA
Flood Statement FLS TBA
Flood Warning FLW TBA
Fire Warning FRW TBA
Hurricane Statement HLS TBA
Hazardous Materials Warning HMW TBA
High Wind Watch HWA TBA
Iceberg Watch IBW TBA
Inductrial Fire Warning IFW TBA
Local Area Emergency LAE TBA
Law Enforcement Warning LEW TBA
Land Slide Warning LSW TBA
Nuclear Power Plant Warning NUW TBA
Power Outage Statement POS TBA
Radiological Hazard Warning RHW TBA
Special Weather Statement SPS TBA
Shelter In-Place Warning SPW TBA
911 Telephone Outage Emergency TOE TBA
Volcano Warning VOW TBA
Wild Fire Watch WFA TBA
Wild Fire Warning WFW TBA

Outages[edit]

Weatheradio Canada outages as reported by listeners. This list is not located on their website and can not be sourced for accuracy, and, may not be a complete list of outages.

Station ID Frequency City/Town Province Date and Time of Outage
If known
Date and Time Restored
If known
XLK 473 162.440MHz Halifax  Nova Scotia 07/01/18 at 2:10AM ADT 07/02/18 10:00PM ADT
XMJ 225 162.400MHz Toronto  Ontario 07/01/18 at 1:10AM EDT 07/02/18 9:00PM EDT
XMJ 225 162.400MHz Toronto  Ontario 07/03/18 at 9:30PM EDT 07/03/18

==Upgrades==[citation needed]

The Government of Canada indicated significant funding for Weatheradio Canada is available, and plans on upgrading the service have already begun as of 2017. Currently the service only broadcasts weather and weather alerts due to limitations to the service capability however, with current and future changes to the service, Weatheradio Canada will be able to add civil alerts which is conditional from the Minister of Public Safety (Ralph Goodale). The ability for Weatheradio Canada to broadcast weather and civil alerts, would move Weatheradio Canada to an All Hazards system, a system which has been available in the United States for many years.

In 2016, Weatheradio Canada fans got word from an Environment Canada employee that new voices were coming to the service soon. Weatheradio has been using the StarCaster Text to Speech which is from out of house for many years. In 2017, an announcement was made that new voices were coming, but there was no indication as to when. Mid 2017, Some Weatheradio Canada listeners got to hear a sample of one of many voices coming to the service via Facebook. The same year, an announcement was made that there would be some live testing of one of several voices to be implemented, but the testing would only be in select markets. Environment and Climate Change Canada has been working on how the new in house text to speech would pronounce many meteorological terms, and how it would pronounce many communities with complex names.

New Voices[edit]

Weatheradio Canada has been playing with the idea of new voices for quite sometime, these new voices would replace the current voice which was developed by StarCaster TTS located in British Columbia, Canada and used for over 15 years. Weatheradio Canada as of May 2018, sent out to Weatheradio listeners in selected regions an Administrative Bulletin using SAME, seeking comments on the new proposed voices coming to Weatheradio Canada. Here are some of the English and French voice samples from Weatheradio Canada in Ontario, Canada.

Ava (English)
Nicolas (French)
Tom (English)

All Hazards[edit]

Currently the weatheradio network is not compatible with an All Hazards system, however, Meteorological Service of Canada is planning on upgrades that will allow Weatheradio Canada to broadcast civil alerts via the Weatheradio network. The alerting protocol does not fall under Environment and Climate Change Canada, it is the responsibility of Minister of Safety, and it is that department that decides what alerts are allowed to be broadcasted, and where they are broadcasted.[citation needed]

Former Logos[edit]

Links[edit]

Official Website

Listen Live[edit]

XLK 473 Halifax
Select areas in (Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba)

References[edit]