Three weather radar structures in southern Ontario will be replaced in 2021 according to Environment Canada. The radar locations are located in King, Franktown, and Britt. The new King radar is expected to be online in late June. The new Franktown radar is expected to be online in late July. The new Britt radar which is often used by Muskoka residents is expected in November.
Weather Network Meteorologist Ethan Sacoransky said this is a major upgrade that will improve tornado/supercell detection across Ontario.
“The upgrade will fill gaps in radar velocity data which currently exist across Muskoka, Algonquin Park, greater Sudbury and Temagami/North Bay.” said Meteorologist Ethan Sacoransky.
There will be downtime at each site. King is now offline until the new radar comes online. Franktown will come back online with a blanked sector soon and last until May, at which time it will go offline again. Britt will go offline in July.
Several factors are taken into account to determine the radar replacement order and schedule. This includes:
- current operational stability
- climate and local severe weather frequency
- access to the radar sites
Dual polarization: a leading-edge technology
These state-of-the-art radars will have fully integrated dual-polarization technology, which will enable forecasters to better distinguish between rain, snow, hail, and freezing rain as well as better discern the size, shape, and variety of precipitation particles. This technology will also enable better identification and removal of non-meteorological targets such as birds, bugs, and debris from the data. As a result, they will issue more precise and timely weather watches and warnings for these significant weather events, giving Canadians more lead time to take appropriate actions to protect themselves, their family, and their property from the effects of severe weather.
Extended tornado-detection range
The new radars will also have an extended severe-weather detection range to cover more of Canada, increasing the Doppler range to 240 kilometres per radar from the current 120 kilometres. Doubling the Doppler range will give Canadians more time to react to severe weather changes. Extending Doppler coverage of the weather-radar network will also allow for better overlap of neighbouring radars in case of an outage.
Better serving weather-sensitive industries
Economic sectors sensitive to weather events such as agriculture, natural resources, fisheries, construction, aviation, tourism, transportation, retail, and investors will benefit from higher data quality and consistency for severe-weather events as weather information is an important part of their strategic planning. For example, weather-radar imagery is used to help in safely routing planes around severe weather.
The improved weather-data quality will also allow for more effective use of the information in other areas, such as water management, as radar images are used to understand the effects of precipitation on drainage basins, in particular in support of flood forecasting by provinces.
Continuous weather services during the replacement process
Before a new radar is structure commissioned, the old radar will have to be turned off. As we do for regular maintenance and unexpected technical problems, we will continue to provide weather services by using data from neighbouring radars since, wherever possible, the coverage of the radars has been designed to overlap. Weather forecasters also use satellite images, surface weather stations, lightning detectors and sophisticated computer models to monitor severe weather conditions. The scheduling of radar replacements will take into account seasonal severe weather periods to ensure minimal disruption and every effort will be made to minimize downtime. Environment Canada will continue to use the Status of Canadian Radar Network page to inform the public.
The radar structure is composed of an open lattice steel tower with a 12-metre diameter radome on top. The total height will vary from one site to another depending on the location and surroundings. Generally, the weather radars will be about 40 meters high or the equivalent of a 12-storey building.