Que­bec’s Fa­mous Fore­caster

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier

Af­ter a rather di­vi­sive provin­cial elec­tion here in Que­bec, there is still one thing that holds all Que­be­cers to­gether: our weather! No-one knows that bet­ter than En­vi­ron­ment Canada me­te­o­rol­o­gist An­dré Cantin, who has been the Que­bec me­dia con­tact for all things weather-

re­lated for many years and is also now the prov­ince’s Warn­ing Pre­pared­ness Me­te­o­rol­o­gist.

“What I do now, be­sides my con­tact with the me­dia, is work with the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity as their ex­pert con­sul­tant. We’re par­tic­u­larly busy in the spring, for ex­am­ple, in your re­gion the Saint Fran­cois and the Riche­lieu Rivers are still high. If we get a lot of rain there could be more flood­ing,” said Mr. Cantin who has worked as a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with En­vi­ron­ment Canada for thirty-three years.

“Our role is to give in­for­ma­tion and our opin­ion. Prob­lems can be pre­vented or min­i­mized when the au­thor­i­ties know enough in ad­vance about se­vere weather con­di­tions. We work a lot with Hy­dro-Que­bec and the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies. When they know what’s com­ing they can send crews out to the ar­eas af­fected ahead of time,” he ex­plained.

Mr. Cantin, be­sides the emer­gence of the ef­fects of cli­mate change on the scene, has seen other changes in his field over the years. “It is mostly our tools that have evolved. When I started we would re­ceive satel­lite im­ages printed on paper to study to make our fore­casts. Now we can watch the im­ages on a com­puter. We also have Dop­pler radar so we can mea­sure the move­ment of pre­cip­i­ta­tion and see what’s go­ing on in the mid­dle of a storm.”

One of those ‘new tools’ al­lowed Mr. Cantin to watch one of the century’s most dev­as­tat­ing storms as it un­folded at the end of Oc­to­ber, 2012. “I watched the satel­lite im­ages of Hur­ri­cane Sandy on the com­puter. In my thirty-three years as a me­te­o­rol­o­gist I’ve never seen a storm with such in­ten­sity and such im­pact. It’s a real chal­lenge but if we can fore­cast well, it can have a ma­jor im­pact in re­duc­ing loss of life and property dam­age. Our work is very use­ful but we need the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the me­dia,” said the me­te­o­rol­o­gist.

Pos­si­bly the most pop­u­lar Federal rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Que­bec, if you con­sider the num­ber of times Mr. Cantin is quoted or in­ter­viewed by the me­dia, chal­lenged only by his co-worker at En­vi­ron­ment Canada, fel­low me­te­o­rol­o­gist René Her­oux, Mr. Cantin will get a lot of phone-calls when the weather turns ugly. “We’ll typ­i­cally get abut seventy or eighty calls a day from the me­dia dur­ing a bad storm. Dur­ing one bad win­ter storm in De­cem­ber, about four or five years ago, we re­ceived one hun­dred and thirty calls from the me­dia be­tween 6:00 am and 8:00 pm. That was our busiest day. Ra­dio in­ter­views aren’t too bad; they usu­ally last only two or three min­utes. But when we get a call from Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and have con­fer­ence calls with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and pro­fes­sional of­fi­cials, that can last a lot longer,” said Mr. Cantin about his job. As they say, “When it rains, it pours!”

Of course it’s not only the me­dia and gov­ern­ments who want and need to know about the weather and it’s not only the En­vi­ron­ment Canada me­dia line that can start ‘ring­ing off the hook’ when the clouds roll in. “Our au­to­matic En­vi­ron­ment Canada weather line, in Que­bec, gets about ten mil­lion calls a year. And the En­vi­ron­ment Canada weather web­site is the most con­sulted web­site in the Federal govern­ment!” said Mr. Cantin.

When asked what he be­lieved were the big­gest mis­con­cep­tions people had about the field of me­te­o­rol­ogy, Mr. Cantin com­mented: “Lots of people think the fore­cast is al­ways wrong. They don’t con­sider that, as an ex­am­ple, the fore­cast for the Estrie re­gion is very gen­eral be­cause the Estrie is a big area so we have to look at the big pic­ture.”

Mr. Cantin is also sur­prised that many people don’t be­lieve in cli­mate change or global warm­ing be­cause of the cold win­ters we’ve had lately. “You don’t look at the dif­fer­ence be­tween one year and the next, but at the ten­den­cies over five or six year pe­ri­ods. There is not a good un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ence be­tween cli­mate and weather.”

“When not on the job, do people still ask you about the weather?” I won­dered. “Al­ways,” was his im­me­di­ate re­ply. “The weather is the first sub­ject of con­ver­sa­tion when people know it’s your field. There is also a lot of teas­ing about the job, so you have to have a thick skin. But most people can see that the ac­cu­racy is im­prov­ing.”

“People in warm coun­tries are not as pre-oc­cu­pied with the weather as we are here. We can have very big vari­a­tions in the weather, even in just a twelve hour pe­riod; sun in the morn­ing and then vi­o­lent hail in the af­ter­noon on your head. So the weather is a big pre-oc­cu­pa­tion not just in Que­bec, but right across Canada,” com­mented Mr. Cantin.

“For thirty-three years I have loved my job and I’m still very mo­ti­vated by it. I en­cour­age young people in­ter­ested in the field of me­te­o­rol­ogy to con­sider work­ing as a fore­caster or re­searcher. En­vi­ron­ment Canada needs to hire be­tween thirty-five and forty new me­te­o­rol­o­gists each year and they can usu­ally find only about twenty, so it’s a good ca­reer choice,” con­cluded Mr. Cantin, ever the pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tor!

Cass Fu­neral Home 545 Duf­ferin, Stanstead, Que­bec Canada on Thurs­day, May 8th , 2014, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. where friends and fam­ily may come to visit. A cel­e­bra­tion of her life will take place in the fu­neral home, at 4 p.m. with Rev­erend Lise Kuzmin­ska of­fi­ci­at­ing. Do­na­tions in her mem­ory may be made to the Re­search Hospi­tal for Chil­dren, St. Jude Place, Mem­phis, TN U.S.A. 38105. The fam­ily of Gisele want to thank the friends and people of Stanstead for all the help and kind­ness given to her since the pass­ing of Harold in 2012. With­out you she would not have sur­vived on her own. Stanstead is truly a unique com­mu­nity. – Rock Is­land/ Stanstead, Gla­dys A. (Wheeler) El­lis, 90, died peace­fully on De­cem­ber 17th, 2013 at Umass Me­mo­rial Health­care, Worces­ter Mas­sachusetts. Her hus­band Charles El­lis died in 1963. She leaves be­hind her son, Pierce El­lis and his wife Judy of North­bor­ough, Mas­sachusetts, her daugh­ter Linda El­lis John­son and her hus­band Joseph of Shrews­bury Mas­sachusetts, four grand­chil­dren Stephanie Sarli, Sharon Lind­say, Cindy Birri, and Tracy O’Neil all res­i­dents of Mas­sachusetts, and sis­ter Beatrice Martin of On­tario, Canada, and 13 great grand­chil­dren. She was pre­ceded by broth­ers, Al­bert and Tommy and sis­ters, Ella, Pearl, and Alice. Born in Gran­iteville, Que­bec, Canada and raised in Rock Is­land, she was the daugh­ter of the late Thomas and Goldie (Hart­ley) Wheeler. Gla­dys was em­ployed at Spencer Co. in Rock Is­land where she was the in­spec­tor and head seam­stress. She en­joyed sewing, bingo, watch­ing movies and din­ing out. Most im­por­tant to her was her fam­ily by whom she will be dearly missed. A grave­side burial will be held at Crys­tal Lake Ceme­tery in Stanstead on May 31st, at 2 p.m.

Photo cour­tesy

Photo cour­tesy

An­dré Cantin has been with En­vi­ron­ment Canada for over thirty years and is also Que­bec’s Warn­ing Pre­pared­ness Me­te­o­rol­o­gist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.