Weather Wednesday – CANWARN And SKYWARN

Welcome to another Weather Wednesday. This week I am going to try and talk about what both CANWARN and SKYWARN are. They are weather spotting programs managed by both Environment Canada in Canada and The National Weather Service in the US. This will obviously interest anyone who has a passion for the weather and who may also be involved with emergency services, Government, constabulary and even the Ham Radio community. If I left anyone out, I apologize.
SKYWARN has been around since the 70s and CANWARN was started in 1987, by members of the Windsor Amateur Radio club and one of the main people who were the building blocks in it getting off the ground, was Randy Mawson VE3TRW. He worked for Environment Canada for a long time and has instructed many CANWARN training sessions over the years. He retired in 2013 and well, some people refer to him as the Father of CANWARN. Well, that maybe true and I think it is.
Eventually, it spread across most of Canada, thanks in part to a tornado in Edmonton in 1987. It is active in: Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I don’t know about British Columbia but I have heard that it isn’t active there.
I personally have been involved since 2008 but haven’t had to report anything yet. The training is about how to spot cloud formations and learning about the various types of thunderstorms that occur in the summer severe weather season. I find it interesting and I get to not only learn new things every year but I get to meet new people when I go to a training session.
If you would like to go to one, they are held during the late winter to summer across Canada, depending on where you are. In Ontario, the training sessions are held during the April to June time frame and a session lasts about 2.5 hours. You can find out about the nearest training session to you on the web. Just google CANWARN and you may find something.
SKYWARN generally operates the same way and the sessions are held at roughly the same time of year. The interesting thing is that on NOAA Weather Radio, it mentions spotter activation during severe thunderstorm events. In Canada the Weatheradio network doesn’t do that, dew to how it works. See previous posts for more on this.
Anyway, that is a rough idea on how CANWARN and SKYWARN work. There is SKYWARN in different parts of the world such as the UK and there are other weather spotter training services throughout the world.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ham Radio community is an integral part of both CANWARN and SKYWARN. Without people like myself who are licensed Ham’s they probably wouldn’t have been able to work and yes, Randy Mawson is a Ham. I mentioned his call sign earlier in this post. My call is VA3WXA. 73, I mean all the best.


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