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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Meteorological Technicians (2255)

Meteorological technicians observe weather and atmospheric conditions, record and interpret meteorological data, transmit and report on recorded information, and provide meteorological information and advice to the general public, the transportation industry and the media. They are employed by the Atmospheric Environment Service of Environment Canada and by the armed forces, private consulting companies, resource and utility companies and by provincial governments.

Reading Help - Reading
Meteorological Technicians
  • Read short comments in logbooks from weather observers on previous shifts to review work that has been completed and tasks that still require their attention. (1)
  • Read e-mail from co-workers, colleagues and customers requesting and providing weather-related information such as the location, intensity and development of weather patterns. These e-mail vary in length from brief confirmations of forecasts to longer messages modifying previous forecasts or describing unusual weather occurrences and observations. (2)
  • Read text summaries of satellite and radar imagery observations from Environment Canada weather sites. They read the weather reports to confirm their own observations and to gather information about surrounding weather systems which can be used for forecasting. (2)
  • Read instructions and operational guidelines found in technical equipment and procedure manuals such as those published by Meteorological Services and Business Policy Branch of Environment Canada. The manuals also offer information about troubleshooting common problems. (3)
  • Read regulatory guidelines in federal government publications such as the Manual of Surface Weather Observations issued by Atmospheric Environment Services to apply to current policies and procedures in their own work. The guidelines cover a variety of subjects including training policies and procedures for the removal of hazardous materials. (3)
  • May read weather descriptions, observations and warnings in meteorological reports from both domestic and international locations. The reports are used to prepare briefings for pilots about weather conditions that may affect aviation such as icing, turbulence and low visibility. (3)
Avalanche Forecasters
  • Read comments in daily reports from the Canadian Avalanche Society. These reports summarize current weather and snowpack conditions, and forecast future conditions. (3)
Document use Help - Document use Meteorological Technicians
  • Scan lists in the Manual of Abbreviations to locate international abbreviation codes for meteorological instruments and equipment. (1)
  • Create work schedules for employees up to four months in advance. They review staff schedules daily to verify work shifts and negotiate changes as required. (2)
  • Review observation graphs of humidity, wind velocity and temperature from Environment Canada stations to identify and interpret weather patterns. (3)
  • Complete surface weather record forms. They enter weather observation data and equipment readings which are encoded according to Environment Canada guidelines. (3)
  • Study tables displaying measurements such as barometric pressures, temperatures, humidity and wind speeds in order to forecast weather conditions locally, regionally and internationally. (4)
  • Study satellite and radar images to inform current weather observations and long-range forecasts. They infer wind speed, wind direction, cloud density and other weather information from the images. (4)
Avalanche Forecasters
  • Take measurements from aerial photographs of mountains to identify potential avalanche areas. For example, most slab avalanches originate on slopes of 30 to 45 degree angles while steeper slopes of 50 to 60 degree angles, tend to sluff snow constantly. (3)
Meteorological Inspectors
  • Complete equipment inspection checklists which are several pages in length. They mark off each item as it is inspected and note any equipment malfunctions. (2)
  • Compare photographs of prospective sites for weather stations to identify topographical features that may impede the efficiency of sensing equipment before recommending appropriate sites. (3)
Writing Help - Writing Meteorological Technicians
  • Write comments in shift logbooks to document observations, describe work completed and highlight priority items for the following shifts. (1)
  • Write brief e-mail to weather observers in surrounding locations, requesting or supplying updated weather reports. (2)
  • Describe surface weather conditions on record forms. They summarize information extracted from satellite imagery, radar reports, observations from other meteorological stations and personal observations. (3)
Meteorological Inspectors
  • Write inspection reports that present evaluations of meteorological stations' operational performance. The reports provide details on the stations' reliability of statistical data, timeliness of data input and problems with equipment. The reports comment on the degree to which performance meets standards and may include recommendations for upgrading to meet required standards. (4)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy

Scheduling, Budgeting and Accounting Math

Meteorological Inspectors
  • Establish installation, maintenance and repair schedules of meteorological equipment. They prioritize the tasks according to availability of resources, costs of the projects and scope of work. (2)

Measurement and Calculation Math

Meteorological Technicians
  • May measure temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed and wind direction by releasing weather balloons carrying expendable measuring devices called radiosonodes. The radiosonodes send sensor measurements to ground receivers. (2)
  • May measure the amount of precipitation using tipping bucket rain gauges. They may use this method for collecting rainfall as a backup method to confirm measurements and to compare to radar information during heavy storms. They observe the amount of rain that is collected in the two chambered buckets and measure the weights of the precipitation that caused the buckets to tip. (3)
  • Measure the sizes, shapes and directional movements of storms by downloading radar maps and using specialized software. They use the information to plan forecasts, issue warnings of hazardous weather conditions and prepare weather reports. (3)
Avalanche Forecasters
  • Take measurements of slopes from pictures of mountainous terrain using protractors. (3)
Meteorological Inspectors
  • Measure distances between weather observation equipment and obstacles that may hinder the equipment's accuracy. (4)

Data Analysis Math

Meteorological Technicians
  • Compare equipment readings to those generated by test equipment to ensure sensing devices are properly calibrated and readings are within acceptable ranges. (2)
  • Analyze barometric pressures reported by surface weather stations across Canada and plot isobars on maps by connecting points of equal barometric pressures. They plot high and low pressure areas to track the movements of cold and warm fronts and determine the boundaries of weather systems for forecasting purposes. (2)
  • Analyze wind speed and direction data to interpret patterns of surface wind speeds over time and to predict system movements. (3)
  • Analyze reports of measurements of temperatures, wind speeds, cloud covers, humidity and air pressures received at three hour intervals in order to prepare synoptic reports and long-range forecasts. (3)
  • Analyze weather data to prepare daily forecasts. They study radar and satellite imagery to identify types of clouds, heights and spans of cloud coverage. They compare weather data that is collected across Canada and the United States including temperatures, wind velocities and humidity to be able to identify weather patterns that may affect their areas. They synthesize the information and compare it to their observations and data collected locally. (4)

Numerical Estimation

Meteorological Technicians
  • Estimate the high and low temperatures for the day using weather data and their observations of local weather patterns. (2)
  • Estimate when weather systems will arrive by considering wind speeds, and the distances systems must travel. They revise these estimates periodically to improve the reliability of the forecasts. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication Meteorological Technicians
  • Exchange information with incoming staff during shift changes to brief them about weather conditions. (1)
  • Interact with supervisors to discuss weather concerns, technical problems and staff schedules. (2)
  • Speak with suppliers to determine if replacement parts are available for equipment. (2)
  • Provide weather forecasts and warnings to radio and televisions stations via the telephone. Relaying warnings of hazardous weather by telephone allows information to be broadcast to the public before the arrival of storms. (2)
  • Provide information to customers regarding weather forecasts. For example, they may provide snowfall forecasts to snow removal personnel. (2)
  • Participate in group discussion with supervisors, co-workers and meteorological inspectors during annual audits to discuss equipment problems and safety concerns. (2)
  • May provide weather briefings to flight crews and air traffic controllers. They outline weather conditions for various altitudes and warn them of severe weather patterns that may affect flying. (3)
  • May broadcast weather conditions and forecasts to the public via television. (3)
Avalanche Forecasters
  • Warn outdoor enthusiasts such as skiers, snowmobilers and campers about snow instability and avalanche hazards. (3)
Meteorological Officers-in-charge
  • Train new surface weather observers by providing feedback on their job performances. They explain what is expected, provide encouragement and verify that the job tasks are understood. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking

Problem Solving

Meteorological Technicians
  • Observe data anomalies that indicate meteorological equipment is not functioning properly. For example, they may notice anemometer readings that are static during strong winds. They report the problem to their supervisors, submit documented reports to NAV Canada and gather the data by alternative means until the equipment is repaired. (2)
  • Find that computer malfunctions are causing delays in sending, receiving and calculating weather information. Until the equipment is fixed, they telephone other meteorological stations to exchange information verbally and revert to performing calculations manually. (2)
Avalanche Forecasters
  • Encounter decreased visibility, when they are in the mountains, that prevents helicopters from picking them up. They anticipate these problems by carrying survival gear packs which they can use if forced to spend the night outside in mountain terrain. (3)

Decision Making

Meteorological Technicians
  • May decide whether to send up ceiling balloons to measure cloud ceilings based on initial assessment of wind speed and direction. (1)
  • May decide what information they will present during live television broadcasts. They must be prepared to spontaneously fill their allotted airtime during their broadcasts. (2)
  • May decide to issue severe weather advisories. They study radar maps, communicate with surrounding observation stations and observe local weather conditions before deciding to act. (3)
Meteorological Inspectors
  • Decide whether meteorological equipment should be replaced or repaired. They consider the age of the equipment, its maintenance and repair history and the estimated cost of repairs. (3)

Critical Thinking

Meteorological Technicians
  • Judge the accuracy of meteorological sensing devices by comparing the equipment readings to measurements gathered from other stations and their observations of local weather conditions. (2)
  • May assess the quality of their weather data to judge if it is adequate for on-air presentations or for responses to queries from news media. They consider whether their data is current and detailed enough. They confirm their judgements with meteorologists, forecasters and other technicians. (2)
Avalanche Forecasters
  • Judge the risk of avalanches by analyzing the environmental conditions of mountain sides. They consider the terrain, wind velocity, temperature, precipitation and strength of the snow packs. They synthesize all the information to determine if there are indications that an avalanche will occur. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Meteorological technicians plan and organize their work according to routines that are established by meteorologists. However, they are responsible for organizing their daily tasks, such as gathering information about weather from radar and satellite imagery, operating computer programs and sending weather forecasts to radio, television and weather stations. Their work plan must be integrated with other weather observers to send, receive, compare and analyze weather data. For example, they send local weather information every three hours and a synopsis of weather patterns every six hours. Their schedules may be adjusted when necessary to report unexpected changes in weather patterns such as storm fronts. Most of the duties are detail-oriented and the volume of work depends on the weather. (2)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Meteorological officers-in-charge at weather stations are responsible for planning the work and training schedules of surface weather observers and other technicians. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Memorize codes and abbreviations for recording weather observations.
  • Memorize a variety of computer codes that are used to retrieve and transmit data from meteorological weather stations worldwide.
  • Memorize meteorological station inspection rules, standards and procedures.
  • Remember what types of information are required by different briefing audiences and anticipate questions which are likely to be asked.
  • Retain the weather data received over the telephone until it can be jotted down when preparing a forecast.
  • Recall details of mountain snow pack conditions and features of snow crystals they have analyzed previously.

Finding Information

Meteorological Technicians
  • Locate the correct codes for weather observations in the Manual of Surface Weather Observations or the training procedures for technicians in the Weather Observer Qualifications manual. (1)
  • Telephone nearby weather stations to find out about weather conditions in surrounding areas. (1)
  • Seek specific meteorological information on the Internet. For example, they find information for specific geographical areas by analyzing radar images on Environment Canada's web sites. (2)
Meteorological Inspectors
  • Search specific databases to find administrative information about meteorological stations, such as the date of the last inspection, the names of the technical specialists who did the inspections and the serial numbers of equipment. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use word processing. For example, they create memos, reports and data collection tables. (2)
  • Use database software. For example, they use industry-specific database programs to access weather information such as radar and satellite images, weather maps and forecasts. (2)
  • Use communication software. For example, they use e-mail programs to communicate with co-workers, colleagues and clients. They also attach weather reports, maps and other electronic files. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they conduct searches for weather information at sites such as the Environment Canada website. They review weather maps and satellite images and learn what nearby weather observation sites are reporting. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they may create slide presentations for weather briefings and training sessions using software such as PowerPoint. They insert data tables, charts and digital photographs to present complete and comprehensive weather information. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they use spreadsheets to create tables and record temperatures and precipitation, such as daily snowfall amounts, and other weather data. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Meteorological technicians spend most of their time working independently to collect and analyze local weather data from radar, satellites and weather observation stations. They also work as part of a larger team of weather station personnel who exchange weather information with others across Canada. They co-ordinate tasks with co-workers to ensure that weather stations operate twenty-four hours a day. (2)

Continuous Learning

Meteorological technicians are responsible for staying current with advances in their field. In particular, they need to continually learn about new equipment and software. They generally set their own learning goals and learn by communicating with their co-workers and colleagues, taking courses, reading materials available through the workplace and obtained on their own initiatives such as books, manuals, reports and journals, and from web sites. (2)

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