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Public Alerting Program

When severe weather threatens, Environment Canada is here for you, issuing special alerts that notify those in affected areas so that they can take steps to protect themselves and their property from harm. These public alert bulletins are issued through the media, as well as through the department’s Weatheradio service, and our Weather.gc.ca website.

Type of Alerts

The type of alert used depends on the severity and timing of the event:

  • Special Weather Statements are the least urgent type of alert and are issued to let people know that conditions are unusual and could cause concern.
  • Watches alert you about weather conditions that are favourable for a storm or severe weather, which could cause safety concerns.
  • As certainty increases about the path and strength of a storm system, a watch may be upgraded to a Warning, which is an urgent message that severe weather is either occurring or will occur. Warnings are usually issued six to 24 hours in advance, although some severe weather (such as thunderstorms and tornadoes) can occur rapidly, with less than a half hour’s notice.

These alerts are updated regularly so that members of the public can stay on top of a developing situation and take the appropriate action.