Environment Canada confirmed its automated telephone service receives 2,200 calls per month to the Williams Lake line with callers seeking the day’s weather situation and forecast. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Environment Canada’s automated weather update telephone service used heavily

Around 25 million calls come into the service monthly across Canada

In this day and age, not everyone counts on the internet or radio to find out what kind of weather is in store.

In fact, about 25 million calls per month are made to Environment Canada’s automated telephone service to find out the weather conditions and forecasts.

“The Williams Lake line receives approximately 2,200 calls per month,” confirmed Matt MacDonald, an Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist, noting for people living in the Williams Lake area the number is 250-392-1990, in the Quesnel area it is 1-250-992-1500 and in the Prince George area it is 1-250-392-6912.

Read more: Special weather statement issued for Okanagan Connector

However, during the last three weeks, the Williams Lake area number was not working.

For several days Gail Bezanson, who lives at Knife Creek south of Williams Lake, phoned the line repeatedly and heard the same message.

She called Quesnel’s sister paper, the Williams Lake Tribune, Tuesday, asking for help because she does not have a cell phone, internet or television and said while she does listen to the radio it only provides the day’s forecast.

As a cattle rancher she likes to know ahead what the weather is going to be like so she can plan her work.

“This Environment Canada forecast is just deadly and is usually right on the money. They put it on at 5 a.m., then they update it at 11 a.m. and then at 4 p.m. and again if anything changes or there is some weather event happening.”

When MacDonald returned the Tribune’s call, he was able to report that the line had been repaired.

“I don’t know why it wasn’t working,” he said. “There are so many links in that system and apparently the welcome message in that system was corrupted so it was outdated.”

Bezanson said the system has gone off the rails before.

“One time for about three weeks it was only in French, which is OK, but I don’t speak a lot of French and I couldn’t understand what they were saying.”

She said she’s not the only one that uses it in her area.

Bezanson has lived at her Knife Creek Ranch for 30 years.

“First thing in the morning I check the weather,” she said.

“That’s my life. I live outside most of the time with the cows and trying to make things work. It’s really nice to have the forecast.”

Read more: Weather settles into seasonal temperatures this week


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