Weather Forecasting at CBC Ottawa!

Last week, while working on my thesis, the question of monitoring and forecasting the weather came up. How can we develop indicators of preparedness that measure forecasting reliability? This is something that local communities should improve upon if they wish to be prepared for the effects of sea level rise. Another question of interest is should coastal communities be required to have their own forecasting equipment? Well how much of the forecast is actually locally produced and how much is taken from an Environment Canada information feed?

Lots of questions tossed around here, but I figured the best way to find out was to try my luck and e-mail CBC Ottawa’s climatologist, Teri Loretto. She replied within minutes with insightful answers to my questions. On top of that, we were invited in to look at the models used for forecasting.

This past Thursday, Professor Dan Lane, Professor Rick Moll, Sara Mohammadi and I took the 20 minute walk over to CBC on Queen St. Teri was kind enough to show us the studio and even powered up the green screen for us to try our hand at reporting on TV. Check out the pictures from our visit below!

CBC television uses a variety of models that include Weather Services International (WSI), Environment Canada and NOAA. Teri analyzes these models along with local weather watchers across the Ottawa Valley to formulate her forecast. She said that technology has greatly helped with forecasting in recent years. Weather watchers, with the help of twitter, keep her informed in real time of the conditions across Eastern Ontario. At times she can track a front as it moves across the region thanks to the micro analysis from the weather watching community.

All severe weather watches and warnings come from Environment Canada since they are the authority in country.

In the context of my research, public spotters or weather watchers when trained properly can become the eyes and ears of the community. A couple volunteers combined with the help of technology can enhance community preparedness for severe weather events.

When it comes to decision making in smaller coastal communities, basic weather monitoring equipment that can be easily operated would greatly help the deployment process of emergency response. The closest Environment Canada monitoring station could be miles away and information may take time to disseminate down to the local level. Time is of the essence when decision makers are posed with the questions like “should this area be evacuated?” and local information may be the best solution for this.

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