Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Be Wary of Ontario's Red Alert System - 2

With everything else that has been going on in the world: Libya, the passing of Jack Layton, and today’s earthquake, I’m just now getting around to write this.

A few months ago, I wrote about the Ontario Emergency Management “RED ALERT” system. In it, I mentioned that I got an alert for a tornado in Hamilton 25 minutes after the warning had been issued by Environment Canada.

This week, there was a tornado in Goderich Ontario. From Environment Canada, they saw a line of storms on radar at 3:30pm, by 3:48pm they had issued a Tornado Warning. 12 minutes later, a tornado devastated the town of Goderich. Environment Canada strives for a 10 – 15 minute lead time for a tornado warning. Any more than that and you get people becoming complacent, that the warning was in error, or that the danger is over. Kind of akin to people thinking they’re safe in the eye of a hurricane. It also difficult to predict tornados before they form, the more warnings you give, the less likely people are to believe you. This would be the ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome.

The problem I see is that if people are relying on the SMS message, they’re being duped. I received the message at 4:15pm that a tornado warning had been issued at 3:48pm. This is also a full 15 minutes AFTER the tornado struck.

From their FAQ:
8. Q: How long does it take to issue a Red Alert?

The process of issuing a Red Alert is very quick. Every effort will be made to ensure the timely distribution of an Alert; however, accuracy of information must not be compromised.

27 minutes is way to long for this to be issued. Even a 5 minute delay would only allow 7 minutes to prepare, which would be just enough time for most people if they knew where they were, or what they are supposed to do. This really needs to be rectified soon before someone relying on this ends of injured or worse.

NOTE: I’m still waiting for an email from Ontario Emergency Management with regards to HOW the messages are processed. I will update when that becomes available.

FAQ is available here.

No comments:

Post a Comment