Meteorological Service of Canada

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Meteorological Service of Canada
(French: Service météorologique du Canada)
WeatherCAN-Icon.png
Agency overview
Formed 1871
Preceding agencies
  • Dominion Meteorological Service (of Canada)
  • Meteorological Branch, Transport Canada
Jurisdiction Government of Canada
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Minister responsible
Parent agency Environment and Climate Change Canada
Website www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/default.asp?lang=En&n=FDF98F96-1

The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC; French: Service météorologique du Canada – SMC) is a division of Environment and Climate Change Canada, which primarily provides public meteorological information and weather forecasts and warnings of severe weather and other environmental hazards. MSC also monitors and conducts research on climate, atmospheric science, air quality, water quantities, ice and other environmental issues. Meteorological Service of Canada operates Weatheradio Canada which is a network of radio stations throughout Canada transmitting weather and weather alerts 24 hours per day.

There are currently five public weather forecast offices:

There are two centres dedicated to aviation weather forecasting: Canadian Meteorological Aviation Centre-East, located in Montreal, and Canadian Meteorological Aviation Centre-West, located in Edmonton.

MSC also operates the Canadian Meteorological Centre, which is tasked with providing forecast guidance, and the Canadian Ice Service,[1] which provides ice observations and forecasts for mariners. In support of Canada's military, some MSC meteorologists are seconded to the Department of National Defence (Canada).

Canadian Hurricane Centre[edit]

The Canadian Hurricane Centre (CHC) is a division of the Meteorological Service of Canada, an agency of Canada's Department of the Environment, that advises Canadians on the threat of tropical cyclones such as hurricanes and tropical storms, and is responsible for issuing tropical cyclone alerts in Canada and the Canadian Marine District. Founded in 1987, CHC provides guidance to MSC's weather centres in eastern and Atlantic Canada, and is based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. CHC frequently consults with its United States counterpart, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, to coordinate the tracks and positions of storms that pose a threat to Canada.

Forecasting[edit]

Screen capture of a weather forecast for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Meteorological Service of Canada is responsible for providing forecasts for both land and sea within Canada. MSC offers weather forecasts on Weatheradio Canada, telephone, and through the Government of Canada website. The Meteorological Service of Canada offers both English and French forecasts within all regions in Canada on all of their platforms.

The following is a sample text forecast issued by the Meteorological Service of Canada, for forecast region Halifax, NS.[edit]

Forecast issued: 4:00 PM ADT Wednesday 8 August 2018 HEAT WARNING SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH

Tonight A few showers with thunderstorms ending this evening then partly cloudy. Fog spreading inland. Amount 20 mm in thunderstorms. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low 18.

Thu, 9 Aug Mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Fog patches retreating to the coast. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40. High 22. Humidex 30. UV index 7 or high.

Night Cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers in the evening. Showers at times heavy beginning near midnight. Risk of thundershowers overnight. Fog patches spreading inland. Amount 10 to 20 mm. Wind southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light in the evening. Low 18.

Fri, 10 Aug Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. High 24. Night Clear. Low 14.

Sat, 11 Aug Sunny. High 25. Night Clear. Low 14.

Sun, 12 Aug Sunny. High 25. Night Clear. Low 15.

Mon, 13 Aug Sunny. High 26. Night Clear. Low 15.

Tue, 14 Aug Sunny. High 25.

Weather Alerts[edit]

Meteorological Service of Canada is tasked with issuing weather alerts and bulletins. The following alerts below are issued by MSC.

For list of SAME alerts broadcasted on Weatheradio Canada, see Weatheradio Canada REFERENCE
Alert Name Alert Type Description
Arctic Outflow Warning Any combination of wind speed and temperature giving a wind chill of -20 or lower for 6 hours or more. A separate Wind Warning is not required. (Coastal British Columbia only)
Dust Storm Warning 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 A watch is issued when conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms with one or more tornadoes.
Tornado Warning 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 An announcement for specific areas that blizzard conditions are possible.
Blizzard Warning 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 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 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 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 When, within the next 24 hours, a hurricane is expected to pose a threat, with hurricane force winds in the warning area
Heat Warning (Alberta Extreme South including Pincher Creek, Cardston, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 32°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer.
(Alberta - Remainder of Alberta (including the Cities of Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 14°C or warmer.
(British Columbia – Northeast – Northern Interior, Central Interior, including Chilcotin, Cariboos, Prince George, North Thompson, and North Columbia, BC Peace, Bulkley Valley and the Lakes and Fort Nelson) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 14°C or warmer.
(British Columbia – Northwest – Central and Northern Coast (inland and coastal regions), Northern Vancouver Island, and northwestern BC) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 28°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 13°C or warmer.
(British Columbia – Southeast – Fraser Valley, Southern interior including South Thompson and Okanagan, Kootenays, and Columbias (south)) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 35°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 18°C or warmer.
(British Columbia – Southwest – Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound, Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island (except northern sections)) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer.
(Manitoba - North) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer.

Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 34 or higher.
(Manitoba - South) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 32°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 38 or higher.
(New Brunswick) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 30°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 18°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 36 or higher.
(Newfoundland and Labrador) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 26°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 15°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 34 or higher.
(Northwest Territories) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 14°C or warmer.
(Nova Scotia) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 36 or higher.
(Nunavut) No Heat Warning Program at this time.
(Ontario - extreme southwest (Essex and Chatham-Kent Counties)) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 31°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 21°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 42 or higher.
(Ontario - North) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 18°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 36 or higher.
(Ontario - remainder of southern Ontario (including the District of Parry Sound)) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 31°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 20°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 40 or higher.
(Prince Edward Island) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 27°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 18°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 35 or higher.
(Quebec, except Nunavik) Issued when the humidex value is 40 or higher and when the temperature is 30°C or warmer, and both conditions persist for at least one hour. Or Issued when temperature is 40°C or warmer.
(Saskatchewan - North and Central (including Meadow Lake, The Battlefords, Prince Albert, and Hudson Bay)) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 14°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 34 or higher.
(Saskatchewan - South) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 32°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 16°C or warmer. Or Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of humidex values are expected to reach 38 or higher.
(Yukon Territory) Issued when 2 or more consecutive days of daytime maximum temperatures are expected to reach 28°C or warmer and nighttime minimum temperatures are expected to fall to 13°C or warmer.

Blowing Snow Advisory (National, south of the treeline) When blowing snow, caused by winds of at least 30 km/h, is expected to reduce visibility to 800 metres or less for at least 3 hours.
Extreme Cold Warning (South-central and Southwestern Ontario) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 30°C for at least two hours.
(Southeastern Ontario, Southern Interior and Coastal B.C., Atlantic Canada except Labrador) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 35°C for at least two hours.
(Western, Central and Eastern Quebec) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 38°C for at least two hours.
(Central Interior B.C., Northern Ontario, Prairies - Alberta, Southern Saskatchewan, Southern Manitoba) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 40°C for at least two hours.
(Far Northern Ontario, northern Saskatchewan, northern Manitoba, Northern B.C., Labrador) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 45°C for at least two hours.
(Northern Quebec) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 48°C for at least two hours.
(Yukon, NWT (except Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok), Baffin Island (except Igloolik and Hall Beach), extreme northeast Manitoba) Yukon, NWT (except Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok), Baffin Island (except Igloolik and Hall Beach), extreme northeast Manitoba
(Nunavik) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 52°C for at least two hours.
(NWT (Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour and Ulukhaktok only), Baffin Island (Igloolik and Hall beach only) Western and Northern Nunavut) Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 55°C for at least two hours.
Flash Freeze Warning (National, except Nunavik) 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.
Rainfall Warning (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec (except Nunavik)) When 50 mm or more of rain is expected within one hour.
(Interior dry sections of British Columbia) When 15 mm or more of rain is expected within one hour.
(Remaining sections of British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador) When 25 mm or more of rain is expected within one hour.
Fog Advisory * Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island: When low visibilities in fog are expected for at least 18 hours.

* Elsewhere National, except Nunavik: When low visibilities in fog are expected for at least six hours.
Snowsquall Watch National, except Nunavik*: When conditions are favourable for the development of open water snow squall down wind of large bodies of water, like the Great Lakes, with one or more of the following conditions: Localized, intense snowfall producing snowfall amounts of 15 cm or more in 12 hours or less. Reduced visibility (less than 400 metres) caused by heavy snow with or without blowing snow for 3 hours or more. Note that local snow accumulations may be significant.
Snowsquall Warning National, except Nunavik**: When there is a brief period (less than one hour) of very poor visibility (400 m or less), caused by heavy snow and blowing snow, and accompanied by strong, gusty winds of 45 km/h or greater, is expected to occur with the passage of a cold front. (Open Water definition excluded)
Freezing Drizzle Advisory * National, except Nunavik: When a period of freezing drizzle is expected for at least eight hours.
Storm Surge Warning Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec - along the St. Lawrence and Gulf of St. Lawrence coastal areas and the Magdalen Islands: Issued for abnormally high water levels and high waves (storm surge or storm tide) caused by storms, which have the potential to cause coastal flooding. This usually occurs when astronomical tides are at their maximum.
Snowfall Warning Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Magdalen Islands, Quebec (except Nunavik*), Ontario and the following regrions of British Columbia: Whistler, Howe Sound, Inland Vancouver Island, North Columbia, West Columbia, Kinbasket, Elk Valley, Yoho Park - Kootenay Park, North Coast - Inland Sections, West Kootenay, Arrow Slocan Lakes, Kootenay Lake, Cassiar Mountains: When 15 cm or more of snow falls within 12 hours or less.

British Columbia: Southern and Central Coast - coastal sections: When 10 cm or more of snow falls within 12 hours or less;

or When five cm or more of snow falls within six hours or less.

Haines Skagway roads, Yukon / British Columbia: When 20 cm or more of snow falls within 24 hours or less.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, and all remaining areas of British Columbia: When 10 cm or more of snow falls within 12 hours or less.

Special Weather Statement Statement/Testing A type of alert from Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service (MSC) where: (1) A warning or watch is not warranted because the expected conditions are less menacing than those of a warning; or (2) A warning or watch is not yet practical to issue because of the high degree of uncertainty of occurrence, location and/or timing of the possible hazardous condition(s). A special weather statement can be used to describe any hazard (unlike an advisory). The statements do not have a formal “in effect” status, since there is no requirement to update or end them. (This alert is currently active and is classified as a Statement. This alert does not appear on TTS services like Weatheradio Canada and, phone service from Environment and Climate Change Canada)
Rainfall Warning Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec (except Nunavik*): When 50 mm or more of rain is expected within one hour.

Interior dry sections of British Columbia: When 15 mm or more of rain is expected within one hour.

Remaining sections of British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador: When 25 mm or more of rain is expected within one hour.

Legend[edit]

Alert Type Color Description
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.
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.
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.
Testing A type of alert where the alert is not currently being used via TTS services like Weatheradio Canada and telephone service, but is currently used on web services like official website and mobile apps. For TTS services, alert event is being classified as in testing.

History[edit]

Prior to 1840, meteorological observations in Canada were made by private individuals, other entities (like HBC), and explorers, but this information was not provided to the general public.[2]. In 1840, British officials (British Ordnance Department) and the Royal Society established an observatory in Toronto, Canada West, one of a few across the British Empire[2] and likely modeled after the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. The Toronto observatory ended in 1853, but the Government of Canada took over the service and continued collecting climate data. On May 1, 1871, the Government of Canada established the Meteorological Service of Canada by providing a $5000 grant to Professor G. T. Kingston of the University of Toronto to establish a network of weather observations. This information was collected and made available to the public from 1877 onwards. The MSC was then assigned under the Department of Marine and Fisheries. From 1936 to 1946 the services assigned under the Department of Transport as the Meteorological Division of the Air Services Branch' and as the Meteorological Branch from 1956.[3] In 1971 the Canadian Meteorological Service was established under the Department of Environment (Environment Canada) in 1971.[4] The AES was renamed later as the Meteorological Service of Canada.

Heads of the Observatory/MSC[edit]

  • 1840, Lieutenant C.J.B. Riddell, Royal Artillery
  • 1841, Captain J.G. Younghusband
  • 1841–1853, Captain Sir John Henry Lefroy
  • 1853–1855, Professor John Bradford Cherriman, Provisional Director of the Toronto Observatory
  • 1855–1880, Professor G. T. Kingston, Director of the Toronto Observatory, Superintendent of the MSC
  • 1880–1894, Charles Carpmael, Director
  • 1894–1929, Sir R. Frederick Stupart, Director
  • 1929–1946, John Patterson M.A. F.R.C.S., Director
  • 1946–1959, Andrew Thomson D.Sc., M.A. OBE, Controller of the Meteorological Division
  • 1959–1964, Patrick D. McTaggart-Cowan DSc LLD MBE, Director of the Meteorological Division
  • 1964–1971, J.R.H. Noble, Assistant Minister, Atmospheric Environment Service
  • 1964–1971, J.R.H. Noble, Administrator, Atmospheric Environment Service

Headquarters[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]