Advanced lightning sensors to improve forecasts of tornadoes, winds, lightning strikes
Winnipeg – The largest private weather network in Canada, linking 700 on-farm monitoring stations, has grown from the Prairie soil.
The network was launched just two years ago by farmers through the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and WeatherBug, with support from partners like Bayer CropScience. Far surpassing original expectations for its growth, the network is on track to revolutionize the way weather information is gathered, shared and used in Canada – by farmers, media, business, government and the public – enhancing services provided by Environment Canada.
"Farmers and the agriculture industry have worked together to build a weather solution for ourselves," CWB president and CEO Ian White said. "This is the future of weather information. As we continue to forge partnerships across our sector and beyond, the possibilities become very exciting for everyone who depends on weather data."
WeatherBug, the world’s leading provider of local weather information, is now installing cutting-edge lightning detection sensors, using the first technology of its kind in Canada. The WeatherBug Total Lightning Network will detect cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning activity, which allows advanced detection and alerts of severe weather such as tornadoes, downburst winds and dangerous lightning strikes.
"Detecting potentially deadly weather events is critical to protect people and property," WeatherBug president and CEO Bob Marshall said. "Using a broad frequency range and high sampling rate, our lightning detection is more efficient, with better location accuracy. This enables early warning for many types of severe weather."
For farmers, weather information is extremely valuable for making farm-business decisions such as applying expensive fertilizer and pesticides, predicting yields or anticipating frost.
To help producers analyze and use the weather data from their own stations or the network, the CWB and WeatherBug Professional today launched WeatherFarm™ -- an innovative new online weather centre, offered free of charge to all farmers in Western Canada. The online centre includes mapping and modelling tools that farmers can use to help predict and manage pests, increase the efficiency of their crop-protection products and improve farm management practices. Working with industry sponsors, additional agronomic support tools will be added on an ongoing basis, in response to needs identified by producers and agri-business.
The WeatherFarm site gathers data from the 700 field stations, which are linked via the Internet, as well as from other publicly available weather data, including information from Environment Canada stations.
The stations are solar-powered and wireless, feeding information to an IP data logger on wind, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation and rates of change. Additional sensors for factors such as soil temperature and moisture, leaf wetness, UV and solar energy can be added. Commercial-grade stations are also available that can be combined with cameras and lightning detectors.
White said the weather expertise and Prairie-wide scope of the CWB has enabled the organization to play a leading role in the development of the largest weather network in Western Canada. "Farmers need this kind of service and, as their marketing organization, we can help provide it."
For more information, please contact:
CWB media relations manager
Tel: (204) 983-3101
Cell: (204) 223-4281
- WeatherFarm™ receives information from a comprehensive and sustainable network of weather stations, delivering weather data and decision-support tools to farmers and the Canadian agriculture industry. The network links 700 field stations across Western Canada to an online information centre designed with farmers’ needs in mind, at www.weatherfarm.ca. The online centre contains weather-based agronomic models and maps, live and historic weather data, market information and farm news. Monitoring stations are located mainly on farms, grain elevators and agri-business outlets. They now comprise the largest weather network in Western Canada.
- Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the CWB is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada’s biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to more than 70 countries and returns all revenue, less marketing costs, to farmers. www.cwb.ca
WeatherBug (http://www.weatherbug.com and http://www.weatherbugprofessional.com) precisely monitors, organizes and disseminates global weather information. As a trusted source for live, local dynamic data, WeatherBug empowers society with weather intelligence for making more informed decisions. Millions of consumers and professional organizations, including the National Weather Service, rely on WeatherBug to plan daily activities, safeguard lives and improve business operations. WeatherBug is a brand of AWS Convergence Technologies, Inc. (http://www.aws.com)