Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Be Wary of Ontario's Red Alert System

Since I enjoy photographing intense weather, I signed up a few months ago for Ontario's Red Alert System operated by the Emergency Management Office (EMO). I signed up for their SMS service (text messages).

Last night was the first night it went off. It was sent to me due to a Tornado Warning in Hamilton.

CBC Article - Possible tornado strikes near Hamilton overnight

Now, you'd think getting the message would be a good thing. It wasn't. I got the message at 2:08am. The alert was issued by Environment Canada at 1:43am. That's a 25 minute delay. After I got the alert, the storm was already well past the area covered under it. That basically means that by the time residents were alerted to the problem, there was no more problem. If people rely on this system for alerts (as you should be able to do), they would have been unaware of a potentially deadly situation in their midst.

25 minutes is an eternity in a situation like this. With all the tornadoes that we've seen already this year south of the border, we really need to get this system working better, or at least WORKING. I don't know why it's slow, whether from delay sending a bulk message, or if it was a 'manual' system (IE, they get the alert, and then a staff member sends it out, no auto-transfer of information). Either way, it needs to be fixed.

Overall, the system is a great idea, has great potential, but it needs some work. Hopefully, something can be done before the next major storm rolls through. Who knows when someones life will depend on it.

**If you've signed up for this, let me know in the comments WHEN you got your message last night. Curious to see if it's late across the board, or if its over a time frame **

1 comment:

  1. I also got the alert last night, also at 2:08 AM. As I didn't hear my phone go off last night, the message served no real purpose.