Minister Announces More Weatheradio Transmitters, Weather Radio Receivers, Public Education Campaign
The province is expanding Weatheradio transmitter coverage in Manitoba and has purchased more weather radios for schools, daycares, hospitals and municipalities throughout the province, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steven Ashton, minister responsible for emergency measures, announced today.
“Extreme weather events can be very dangerous and the ability to be prepared depends on accurate information and communications,” said Ashton. “Manitoba continues to be a leader in working to improve severe weather alerting and public awareness.”
In partnership with Environment Canada, MTS and Manitoba Hydro, Weatheradio coverage is being expanded in Manitoba to eleven towers from eight. New transmitters have been installed on existing Manitoba Hydro towers in Reston, Point du Bois and Thompson. The three towers are being tested and will be operational within the next week. Additional towers will be completed during the next few years. The new towers will mean approximately 92 per cent of Manitoba’s population have access to immediate severe weather information.
Weather radios will be distributed to hospitals and personal-care homes across the province, as well as to schools, daycares, municipal offices and Northern Affairs communities in the three new regions when the new towers are operational. Weather radios provide continuous weather updates on a special frequency during severe weather incidents.
Weather radios have already been provided to municipal offices, schools, hospitals and daycares in regions with Weatheradio transmitters.
The minister also advised that a public education campaign is underway throughout the province, focusing on people protecting themselves during severe weather. It includes radio and print advertisements and updates to the Manitoba’s Emergency Measures Organization’s website.
In June of 2007, a weather system resulted in severe storms across a wide area of southern Manitoba including the only F5 tornado known to touch down in Canada. The storm system was destructive, destroying many homes and large areas of Manitoba forest. Following the storm, the minister established a working group to investigate lessons learned and to make recommendations on ensuring governments and communities are better prepared in the event of severe weather emergencies.
The working group identified three broad areas:
- distribution of alerts and subscriptions to existing alerting systems;
- public education; and
- emergency planning.
Last year, the province announced an investment of more than $960,000 to respond to the working group’s recommendations.
“Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and hit hard, threatening life and property in Manitoba,” said Ashton. “We need to be prepared at all times and, to do that, Manitobans need accurate and timely severe weather information warnings to ensure their health, safety and security.”
Weather watches and warnings are available at no cost from Environment Canada as well as from a number of private providers including the Weather Network and Accuweather. Warning and alerts are also available online and by text message to people who subscribe.
Subscriptions to weather services can be made on the services’ websites. Subscribers can receive text messages on cell phones and emails on computers, Blackberries or similar devices from:
- Environment Canada at www.ec.gc.ca,
- the Weather Network at www.theweathernetwork.com, and
- Accuweather at www.accuweather.com/canada.
More information on how to be prepared and protected from severe weather is available at www.gov.mb.ca/severeweather.