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New Weather Forecast Regions in Newfoundland and Labrador Improve Traveler Safety

December 8, 2011 - Living in Newfoundland and Labrador means being exposed to one of the most rugged and variable climates anywhere in the country. In winter, temperatures can vary wildly as cold Arctic air is often replaced by warmer maritime air from passing storms. This makes having easy access to timely and accurate forecast and warning information particularly important. Environment Canada is responsible for preparing and issuing weather forecasts and weather warnings so that residents and travelers can make informed decisions based on the best possible weather information. 

Starting on December 13th, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will see several improvements to their public forecast regions that will help them better use Environment Canada’s weather information. The province will now be served by 36 forecast regions, an increase from 28. By using more forecast areas, meteorologists will be able to better tailor forecasts and weather warnings for specific locations.

 “We want to make sure that our weather services and products respond to changing situations and to citizens’ needs,” explains Dale Foote, the project manager who led the development of the new forecast regions. “In the past few years we’ve seen some big changes in Labrador like the completion of the Trans Labrador Highway. The forecast regions needed to be adjusted to better serve the travelling public.”

Thanks to the expansion of the existing regions and the addition of two new forecast regions, travelers will now be able to access forecasts for the entire highway. The portion of the highway between Churchill Fall and Upper Lake Melville will be covered by a new forecast region called Churchill Valley. The portion between Cartwright Junction and Upper Lake Melville will be covered by the new forecast region called Eagle River

In addition the previously-existing three coastal regions of Labrador have been split into seven regions that are more closely aligned with community names. Labrador will now be served by a total of 12 forecast areas instead of the previous six. Finally, some of the existing regions have been re-named to clarify which area the forecast applies to or to more directly reflect terms commonly used by Labradorians.

This suite of improvements follow significant changes made 10 years ago when the forecast regions in Newfoundland were increased to 22 from seven to make the forecasts and warnings more focused and to clarify weather information for users.

“In recent years, client feedback and forecaster experience indicated that further changes would be helpful in some parts of the Newfoundland public forecast areas,” explains Foote. “Accordingly, we split the Avalon Peninsula South forecast region because of the variation in precipitation that often occurs between Cape Race and Arnold’s Cove, and expanded the forecast region of St. John's and Vicinity to address the increasing population in the surrounding areas.”

For the southwest portions of Newfoundland, forecast regions have been modified to better define the area affected by the Wreckhouse Wind phenomenon and to better describe the weather in the Port aux Basques area such as the localized snow squalls that funnel through the Cabot Strait.

These changes are being implemented after a thorough evaluation which considered a number of factors, including: climatology, geography, local weather effects, local naming conventions and public feedback. “In fact, the name Churchill Valley was selected from a list of suggested names provided by a junior high class in Happy Valley-Goose Bay,” explains Foote.