Finding Hal 3
By Jim Poling
Published June 8, 2017
Finally, the mystery is solved.
It took considerable poking and prodding of the federal bureaucracy but we have found Hal 3. It is a weather site, in fact the only weather site recording daily weather statistics in Haliburton County.
Environment Canada (EC) does not have any weather stations in Haliburton County. Neither do other weather services such as The Weather Network, which feed off EC data and massage it for their own reports.
When you search EC online for Haliburton weather you get forecasts and data from Bancroft, an hour’s drive from the centre of Haliburton County.
Haliburton 3 does not do forecasts but provides temperature and precipitation information for days past. If you want to know how much rain fell on the holiday Monday about three weeks ago, it will tell you (almost 15 millimetres, or more than one-half an inch).
I learned of Hal 3 while stumbling around the Internet some years back, but could never find any specific information about it. January past I made it a mission to find out where it was and why its detail is so much better than anything provided by the EC station in Bancroft.
I started with messages to EC in Gatineau, Que. They ignored me. I sent other messages until a human finally replied, telling me to direct my inquiry to the national severe weather centre.
“This has nothing to do with severe weather,” I shot back. “I just want to know where Haliburton 3 weather is collected.”
There was no response. I sent other messages asking if anyone in Environment Canada ever was going to talk to me about Hal 3. No response.
After almost four months of trying to penetrate the thick federal bureaucracy I resorted to a threat. I messaged EC saying it could ignore my requests, but I was certain the federal information commissioner and my local MP would not.
The response was very quick and Hal 3 no longer is a mystery. It is a Cooperative Climate Network (CCN) weather station staffed by a private individual who collects weather data daily and provides it to Environment Canada.
What makes Hal 3 information so much more useful is the word “staffed.” A person actually measures the amount of rainfall and snowfall.
In many locations, Bancroft included, EC has automated weather stations that do not measure rain and snow individually. They collect rain and snow together as liquid and report total precipitation in millimetres.
So it is virtually impossible to know how much snow fell on a given day, which seems a bit unCanadian.
Hal 3 however tells us how much snow and rain falls on a given day. For instance, it tells you that on April 6, a day when it both rained and snowed, rainfall was 17 millimetres, and the snowfall totalled 13 centimetres.
The automated stations simply report 30 millimetres of precipitation, which gives no idea of how much snow fell.
The EC bureaucrats, citing privacy laws, won’t give the name of the individual collecting weather information at Hal 3. They just say that it is a person operating somewhere at Latitude: N 45° 1’ 56.094” Longitude: W 78° 31’ 52.014” somewhere near Grass Lake.
They don’t tell us anything about the Cooperative Climate Network (CCN) but we can guess it is similar to the Cooperative Observer Program in the United States where more than 10,000 volunteers take daily weather observations and report them to the National Weather Service.
You can find Hal 3 on the Internet by going to http://climate.weather.gc.ca/historical_data/search_historic_data_e.html and doing a search for Haliburton 3.
Most people are content to receive standard weather information provided by any of the weather services on the Internet and have little interest in the details. Some others, like myself, are keenly interested in accurate detail and say thanks to the Hal 3 volunteer, whoever you are.
Here are some interesting facts put together with data from Hal 3:
There were no days last winter with lows of minus 30C or colder.
March had more cold days than December, January or February, but December had more snow (134.4 cm) than January, February and March combined.
There was at least a trace of rain on 18 days in April and 21 days in May.