Weather Wednesday – Loading Weather Data On Weatheradio Canada

Hello. It is another Weather Wednesday and today as promised, this post will be on how the data is loaded on Weatheradio Canada. This came from the third issue of the Weather Radio Listeners Newsletter but is edited somewhat to reflect what I have learned since then.
Loading in Weatheradio is the transferring of audio files (forecasts, warnings, and hourly conditions) from the main systems in: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Dartmouth and Winipeg, to the various remote systems that broadcast the actual content. Basically, the loading is either done by telephone dial-up or FTP.
Telephone Dial-up Connection is based upon an analogue type of data transfer. Think of it as hearing someone tells you the forecast and then you repeat it. The dialer machine hear telephones the remote system and signals it to record. Then it plays the message while the remote system is recording it. Because of this method, any noise on the lines would be transferred to the remote machine and then reproduced when played out over the Weatheradio transmitter.
The network method is digital, meaning that the messages are converted into a binary file, and then transferred over the network (via FTP) to the site, which then is able to play back the file over the air. In this method, there will be no added noise or anything else.
In addition to the quality of the recorded file being better by FTP than dial-up, it also loads the remote system at much faster speeds than dial-up. In dial-up, it takes as long as the message plays: a 5 minute message takes 5 minutes to transfer. By FTP, the same message may take only 10 to 15 seconds to transfer with no loss of quality.
Dial-up connections may take quite a while to load several messages, and is much slower.
Despite the advantages of the FTP transfer, there are still a lot of remote systems that don’t have access to high-speed internet needed for efficient loading. Some remote systems are only accessible via phone lines. And just like telephone service outages (high winds knocking down wires, poles, etc.) there can be network outages as well.
To give you an idea of what it sounds like, with dial-up there are short breaks between the information bins. A soft click would signify new information is about to be heard on a Weatheradio Canada transmitter. With FTP, the information comes at you one right after the other. The only break in the broadcast is if there are no warnings or watches in affect at the time.
Your typical Weatheradio Canada broadcast is as follows: the seven day local forecast, the two day forecast for surrounding regions, the inland weather roundup, marine forecast for lakes and rivers surrounding the listening area and the marine weather roundup punctuated by the phrase “current marine reports” in Ontario. This information is always in English and French because of Canada being a bilingual country.
After the English information you will usually hear the station identification read out in both languages then you will hear the French translation. When a severe weather watch or warning is issued, there are various things you will hear depending on what is issued.
In Ontario, when a watch or warning is issued as a SAME weather alert, you will hear the 3 long scratchy beeps followed by what sounds like an egg timer for a few seconds. A voice message then says: “Environment Canada has issued a significant weather bulletin for regions in the broadcast area. Stay tuned for further information.” The message is repeated in French then 3 short beeps end the SAME message. When a warning is issued with the 1050 Hz tone, you will hear the tone then the severe weather bulletin in English and French, and then the regular broadcast cycle starts from the seven day local forecast. In the rest of Canada just the 3 long beep’s and the 3 short beep’s are heard then the watch/ warning is played.
In the United States, the NOAA Weather Radio broadcast cycle is not as standardized as it is in Canada.
Well, there you have it. When you go to buy your first Weather Radio you now know what to expect.

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