Environment Canada reminds Atlantic Canadians To Prepare For Severe Summer Weather

Halifax, JUNE 6, 2005 – Environment Canada has designated June 6-10th as Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week in the Atlantic provinces to remind people about the potential dangers associated with severe summer storms and other extreme summer factors. This year’s theme is “Know what to do before, during and after a storm”. Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week in Atlantic Canada coincides this year with the Canadian Environment Week.

“After a long, wet, cool spring Atlantic Canadians are probably more eager than ever to embrace summer weather conditions,” says Bill Appleby, Atlantic Regional Director of the Meteorological Service of Canada. “But it’s important to know what actions to take before, during and after a storm event, as what you do can help to save lives and protect personal property.”

Each year, Canadians are severely injured and even killed, and personal property is damaged or destroyed because people are ill-prepared to deal with severe summer conditions. The good news is that people can take simple steps to help protect themselves and their loved ones to ensure that everyone enjoys a safe summer.

“While unfortunately changing the actual weather is beyond our control, we definitely can control what we do to prepare for it and minimize the risk of injury or property damage,” says Appleby. “Natural hazards don’t have to become natural disasters if we have taken the right steps to prepare.”

In order to help make Environment Canada’s weather information even more accessible to Canadians, new positions called Weather Preparedness Meteorologists (WPMs ) have been created across the country as part of the modernization of the Meteorological Service of Canada. The WPMs work with media, weather–sensitive businesses and groups, as well as federal, provincial and local emergency response organizations to ensure that weather information and weather warnings are clearly and effectively conveyed to the people who need it most, especially during high-impact weather events. In between high-impact weather events, they give weather awareness training and presentations to local responders and community groups. After particularly significant storm events the WPMs often do site evaluations to assess the impacts of the storm and prepare storm assessment reports.

Hurricanes are another summer weather phenomena of concern in the Atlantic Provinces. For the eighth consecutive year experts around the world are predicting an above-normal number of tropical storms in the Atlantic Ocean, which can then develop into hurricanes. Anytime there is a prediction of increased activity in the Atlantic, it means that there is a greater chance that one or more of these storms will make their way northwards and affect Canada.

Steve Miller, Manager of Environment Canada’s Canadian Hurricane Centre, says that the importance of awareness in minimizing the risk from hurricanes has become very clear over the last couple of hurricane seasons. “Since Hurricane Juan we’re noticing that people are watching hurricane activity more closely. We’re hoping that this means that they will take the warnings seriously and be positioned to act quickly if a hurricane or tropical storm appears to be heading towards Canada,” he says.

In addition to thunderstorms and hurricanes, other summer conditions typically of concern in the Atlantic provinces during the summer months include: poor air quality or smog events, elevated ultra-violet (UV) levels, and elevated Humidex values (high humidity conditions coupled with high temperatures).

To equip Atlantic Canadians with the tools to protect themselves, their families and their property, Environment Canada has updated its Severe Weather Web site which may be accessed at: http://www.atl.ec.gc.ca/weather/severe.