South Central/Eastern ARES Canwarn info & Activities

The South Central/Eastern Manitoba ARES Group is also involved with Canwarn. This is a joint effort between Environment Canada (E.C.) and the amateur radio community. Amateur radio operators are trained by E.C. to recognize weather situations that may be damaging to life and property. Since ARES is already an organized group in the area, it fits right in to our mandate of providing backup and emergency communications in our area. Most of the concern is directed toward summer weather, but also includes winter ice and snow storms. Summer severe weather includes heavy rains, high winds, hail, and tornadoes usually associated with thunderstorms.

CANWARN season in southern Manitoba is MAY 15th to SEP 15th.

Canwarn Training Sessions

2019 Canwarn training session was held on Saturday March 23rd, 10:00am at the Carman Fire Department.

Lunch was at the Breakaway Cafe after the training session, was an enjoyable get-together.

Special Thank You to Natalie Hasell from Climate Change and Environment Canada's Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Center in Winnipeg for coming out and giving us our training. Many of us have had training in the past, and Natalie does a great job changing up the presentation so even the most seasoned storm spotters leave with something new they didn't know before.

Great to see some new faces too!

Next MB Canwarn training session will likely be in Winnipeg next March sometime, date TBA. See you there!!

Happy Canwarn Season!

Skywarn training

If you live along the US border or frequently travel in the US and have radio equipment with you, it would be advisable to participate in Skywarn, the US equivelent of Canwarn. There are training sessions in most counties , and the training is done by members of the NWS (National Weather Service & NOAA). Here is a link to the Skywarn training sessions page in North Dakota.

Skywarn Weather Spotters Field Guide (.pdf format)

Skywarn Storm Spotter Guides and training modules

Manitoba has several Canwarn groups with approximately 130 trained spotters, mostly associated with local ARES groups around the province. Our group covers one of the most active weather regions and we have had many callouts since the establishment of Canwarn in our area. The following pictorials show some of the storms I have had the fun of watching. Some of them resulted in property damage, but no injuries were reported in the storms I have pictures of (that I am aware of!).


The following two exposures were taken on July 24th, 2000; at 1800-1830 local time. Note the funnel in the first picture. This storm did not hit any communities or towns, but did a lot of crop and rural building damage. I took these pictures from at least 10 miles from where the funnel touched down close to Brunkild, Manitoba; about 15 miles south west of Winnipeg. Photo Particulars: 35mm Camera, taken from 1 mile north of Mactavish MB on PTH 330 looking WNW (300 degrees). Zoom @ 275mm, f=4, ASA-100 film at 1/60sec exposure time.

These three pictures show a storm in late June 1998 that is known as the Lowe Farm storm because it blew the roof off of one of the grain elevators there. It occoured in the morning around 0800 local time. Views are looking west. The wind was gusting well over 100 km/hr for a few seconds and blew over a grainery (last picture) in my yard.

Storm Spotting Safety

Canwarn is an organization of amateur radio operators who report severe weather, or suspected severe weather, to Environment Canada in aiding forcasting and forwarning for the safety of the general public. We are not in the business of "storm chasing" and we do not need to get close to dangerous weather events. Most severe storms can be recognized from a distance. Severe lightning, hail, dangerous winds, and flash flooding can occour near or under these storms and it is best to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! Stay in your vehicle as much as possible to help protect you from lightening. Read your Severe Weather Observer's Manual for more info and attend a traning session before storm spotting.

When out in the field keep in mind what general direction the storm is moving and the directions you can move to avoid getting caught. A general familiarity with the area you are spotting in and good maps/GPS are extremely important. Stay on paved roads to avoid washouts and dead-ends, as well as mud. Keep in contact with the Net Control Station (NCS) so they can give you instructions as to where to look and where to avoid. The NCS operator is usually located in the PSPC (Prairie Storm Prediction Center) and has access to current radar displays and professional meterologists who give periodic updates to pass along.

What To Report?

Summer Reports:

-ANY tornadic event or funnel cloud

-Rotating wall cloud

-Shelf Cloud

-Hail > 20mm or nickel size+

-Winds > 90km/h

-Rain > 50mm/hr or 75mm 2-3hrs

-Visibility reduced to less than 1/2km

Also remember the Net Controller is filling out a Severe Wx Event Log and needs to record date, time, callsign, direction, location, along with other pertenant info.

Winter Reports

-Low visibility (< 1km snow, <1/2km fog)

-Freezing rain, freezing drizzle, or ice pellets

-Snowfall accumulations >5cm

-Rain that changes to snow or freezing rain

-Reports of power outages or dangerous road conditions

-Winter weather can be reported on the Morning Weather Net on 3743KHz every morning at 8:30am local time.

(There is generally no canwarn net for winter weather. Report via telephone using the 1-800-239-0484 reporting line.)

I will try to keep this web site up to date with latest training session information, pictures, and whatever comes up.

An on-line training guide (link provided by Liam and Amanda, thank you!) for Skywarn, for taking the course from home. This does not replace the training provided my Environment Canada and ARES personal, but shows what it's all about and links to some Skywarn training publications. Article from

-Gord. VE4GLS


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March 6/2019