Environment Canada has started tweeting out warnings about tornadoes, blizzards, and other storms and severe weather in hundreds of communities across Canada.
Canadians can now subscribe to automated weather alerts on Twitter for more than 800 communities across the country, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced today.
"Our government is committed to ensuring Canadians have a weather forecasting system they can rely on to give them timely and accurate information," Aglukkaq said in a statement. "As more Canadians are using social media to stay informed, this new service will play an essential role in ensuring public safety by providing Canadians with expanded access to severe weather information."
Environment Canada already has weather pages for 830 communities, where it posts warnings about severe weather – about 25,000 a year.
The new service means those warnings will automatically be tweeted out with a link back to the local weather page. The alerts will appear in the Twitter feed of users who subscribe. Tweets also include a hashtag to report severe weather.
Steve Ladurantaye, Twitter Canada's head of government partnerships, said the system is a world first.
He would not say how many Canadians subscribe to the social media network.
Earlier this year, the federal government announced it was investing $134 million to improve weather forecasts and warnings.
But this spring, there were complaints about the alerts issued on radio. Many people said they were broadcast in regions that were not affected, or were delivered in garbled robotic voices that were next to impossible to understand.