Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador coast residents to get much-needed weather stations, built by researchers

A team led by Queen's University has been travelling along the Labrador coast this summer installing small weather stations which operate via satellite.

Stations 'should have been done beforehand,' says Queen's University prof

Robert Way, assistant professor at Queen's University, says the provincial government should have had weather stations in small communities well before his team pitched the project. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Living in Labrador means working with Mother Nature, not against her.  

Many communities across the Big Land don't have their own weather station, and knowing the weather is a matter of survival in some cases. 

That's why a team led by Queen's University has been travelling along the Labrador coast this summer installing small weather stations.

The stations operate via satellite to help smaller communities receive localized weather information, rather than relying on a forecast from areas nearby. 

The latest one has been installed in North West River as part of the Coastal Labrador Climate and Weather Monitoring Program. Others included Black Tickle, Rigolet, Postville and Red Bay. 

"They try and use a mathematical model in conjunction with where they have weather stations to predict what it's like at a place. So, in the case of Black Tickle they're using information from maybe Mary's Harbour and also Cartwright to try and guess what its like in Black Tickle," said Robert Way, a Labradorian and an assistant professor at Queen's University. 

"A station like this provides a means for residents in that community to actually look up what the actual weather is, and not just what's being forecasted."

The program is funded by the federal government, in collaboration with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

The team from Queen's University says localized weather stations are far more accurate than relying on weather forecasts from surrounding areas. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The team from Queen's University holds consultations with the communities it is building in before constructing any weather stations.

Transportation and infrastructure important

Labrador is a massive geographic area that relies on weather for much of its transportation of people, groceries, medical evacuations and more through land, sea and air. 

Winter months can be unforgiving.

"In an area like Labrador where people go long distances on snowmobile and boat, having a good idea about wind speed in particular, and wind direction, matters quite a lot," Way said. 

However, Way added, localized weather stations shouldn't be left for university researchers to install.

He said weather stations are a part of important infrastructure that government should already have in place, adding it has been an oversight by government to not have something in place in older Labrador communities by now. 

"This type of stuff should have been done beforehand. So, at the same time that we are investing huge amounts of money in some climate change infrastructure in some regions, it's important to remember that things as simple as setting up weather stations really matter to people on the ground," Way said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jacob Barker, Here and Now