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New weather stations to help flood forecasters and farmers

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The province will purchase 60 new automated weather stations to boost its capacity to predict floods, fight fires and better assist farmers.

The government did not immediately attach a cost figure for the announcement, which came in the form of a press release.

"Significant weather events can affect thousands of people provincewide so we are investing in new equipment to ensure Manitobans have the most up-to-date weather information possible," said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.

The new weather stations, which will begin to be installed this fall, will include all-season precipitation gauges to collect snow and rainfall precipitation to improve flood forecasting related to spring thaws and rainfall-driven events. They will transmit hourly data on air temperature, humidity, rainfall and soil temperature.

Ashton said 20 stations will be placed in areas at risk for forest fires to support Manitoba’s fire-prevention programs. The other 40 stations will be located in agricultural areas to enhance Manitoba’s agro-meteorology program, which provides weather-related information and other tools to producers at no charge, which is then used for crop and land-management decisions.

The new weather stations will also improve the Manitoba government’s ability to report on crop and soil conditions, assess risks from crop diseases and insects, and support decision-making for the crop-residue burning program.

"Everyone likes to talk about the weather, but these new automated stations will provide critical information for farmers as it guides their decisions that can sometimes mean the difference between profit and loss," said Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn. "More weather stations will result in more accurate, timely information and better resources for producers."

The expansion of the weather station network was a recommendation from the 2011 Flood Review Task Force. Ashton said meteorological data from all weather stations across the province will be used to help officials assess and forecast weather events such as heavy rainfall that may lead to flooding.

In addition to Environment Canada weather stations, Manitoba currently operates 50 permanent weather stations and 20 seasonal weather stations. All of the new weather stations will meet international measurement standards to ensure accuracy, the province said.

 

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