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This article describes severe weather terminology used by the Meteorological Service of Canada, a branch within Environment and Climate Change Canada. The article primarily describes various weather warnings, and their criteria. Related weather scales and general weather terms are also addressed in this article. Some terms are specific to certain regions.[citation needed]

Warning categories

Severe weather bulletins are issued as a watch or a warning, depending on the risk or severity of the event.

Alerts are typically updated every six hours, except for mesoscale/summer severe weather alerts which are updated when necessary.

Weather warnings

Weather watches and warnings are issued when potentially hazardous weather is occurring or is forecast for the short term period.[2]

Note: Nunavik, Quebec only participates in two types of weather warnings: Extreme Cold Warnings and Wind Warnings. No other types of watches or warnings are issued in this region of the country.

Mesoscale/Summer severe weather

Public bulletins will often mention the possibility of tornadoes; if a tornado is spotted or conditions are favourable enough for tornado development, the warning will be upgraded accordingly.[2]

Hurricanes and other tropical systems

See also: Tropical cyclone warnings and watches

Winter weather

General warnings

Marine warnings


Areas covered by the Tsunami Alerts

Advisories and Special Weather Statements


Advisories are issued in a similar format to that of an official warning. Unlike warnings, however, these types of bulletins describe exceptional weather events that are generally not considered hazardous, but could be a potential concern to the public (for example, frost that can damage crops during the growing season).

Advisories are not issued in Nunavik, Quebec.

Commonly issued advisories as of March 23, 2022 include:[2]

Special Weather Statements

A Special Weather Statement is usually issued in two circumstances:

Special Weather Statements are typically used to make the public aware of a potentially high impact weather event in the long range and so a watch or warning is not yet necessary.

Unlike watches, warnings, and advisories, Special Weather Statements are more free form and have no formal requirement to be issued, updated, or ended.

Tropical Cyclone Information Statements

Issued when a tropical cyclone that is producing tropical storm-force winds (63–117km/h; 39–73 mph; 34–63 kn) is expected to enter Canadian coastal waters or land in the next three days. The statements are in plain language and provide non-technical storm-specific information that is meant for the general public and media.[3]

A Tropical Cyclone Information Statement consists of three sections:

Thunderstorm Outlooks

Thunderstorm Outlooks are issued by each regional Storm Prediction Centre for their respective regions, typically starting in May and ending in September. Thunderstorm Outlooks are issued for every province and territory except Nunavut.

This product remains experimental, and as such, there is no official spot to find the product. They are typically found on official Environment and Climate Change Canada Twitter accounts for the respective provinces.

Related weather scales as defined by Environment Canada

Enhanced Fujita Scale

Main article: Enhanced Fujita Scale

The Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF) is a scale for rating tornado intensity based on the damage on human-built structures and vegetation. While the United States adopted the Enhanced Fujita Scale in 2007, Environment Canada continued to use the original Fujita Scale to assess tornado intensity until April 18, 2013, when the agency adopted the Enhanced Fujita Scale.[4] Tornadoes exceeding F2/EF2 intensity are rare in Canada, although some tornadoes, such as the Edmonton Tornado in 1987, have been as strong as F4. The only F5/EF5 tornado recorded in Canada to date was the Elie, Manitoba tornado in 2007.[citation needed]

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Main article: Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used by the Canadian Hurricane Centre for hurricanes affecting the East Coast of Canada. The Scale ranges from Category 1, the weakest, to Category 5, the strongest with sustained winds exceeding 250 km/h (160 mph; 130 kn).[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Canada, Environment and Climate Change (2009-07-10). "Weather and meteorology glossary". Retrieved 2022-03-24.
  2. ^ a b c Meteorological Service of Canada (26 July 2010). "Public Alerting Criteria". Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  3. ^ Canada, Environment and Climate Change (2009-06-16). "Tropical cyclone information statements and technical discussions". Retrieved 2022-03-24.
  4. ^ Assessing tornado damage: EF-scale vs. F-scale. Retrieved from "Weather News - the Weather Network". Archived from the original on April 27, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2014..