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New radar system aimed to keep Canadians safe from severe weather

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In the small community of Egbert, Ont., sits a weather radar training site, helping to train meteorologists across the country with the latest and best equipment before they head out to protect Canadians from severe storms.

The training facility is a direct copy of 32 radar towers built across Canada from 2017 to 2023, which help meteorologists detect storms quicker and more accurately.

"With the increasing severity of weather events, the network basically being on the verge of obsolescence needed to be replaced," said Peter Leibiuk, a manager with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

According to Leibiuk, discussions to start the massive replacement project began around 2010. With the new state-of-the-art technology, the range of radar has been increased dramatically, from 120 kilometers to 240km. With the help of a new Dual-Polarization system, the weather agency can also better identify what it is trying to capture.

"Essentially, we can tell more about what the radar is seeing, distinguishing from rain, snow, hail and graupel and even non-meteorlogical targets like bugs," Leibiuk said.

In the case of tornados, minutes can save lives. Previously, a scan could take up to 10 minutes. Now, it can take six.

"That extra four minutes can be the difference between making it to the basement or not when a tornado warning comes out," Leibiuk added.

At the Egbert site, technicians can spend up to three weeks learning how to operate and diagnose any challenges that may come up.

They are then assigned to work at towers across the country, with the closest in King City.

With the oldest tower being just seven years old, Leibiuk said the weather agency expects this technology to be in place for decades. However, it is always looking to upgrade as new technology becomes available.

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