Watches & advisories for Alberta rivers: there’s an app for that

The Alberta Rivers app, released on May 26, 2014. Supplied, Government of Alberta

EDMONTON – There’s a new app in Alberta that provides information about the province’s lakes and rivers.

“This app offers users information about current water conditions throughout the province and any advisories, watches or warnings that are in effect,” said Environment Minister Robin Campbell.

The data comes directly from the Alberta River Forecasting Centre as well as Environment Canada.

The app includes alerts and flood-specific advisories, stream flows and water levels. It also provides information on rain and snowfall levels with data from the province’s monitoring stations. People can tap the station they’re interested in to view current data and see if flows are normal or not.

“The data in the app or on the website, we aim for it to be no more than 20 to 30 minutes older than the data we have access to in our forecast centre in our database,” explained Evan Friesenhan, director of Alberta’s river forecasting.

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There is also a map showing the province’s major river basins and graphs that chart their levels over time.

The app will also send push notifications when new advisories and comments are issued.

Another feature is forecasters’ comments, which Friesenhan says will add context to weather situations.

Campbell said the app will help ensure that people have information they need – especially in emergency situations.

“After the devastation that happened in southern Alberta almost a year ago, Albertans told us they wanted more ways to get information about possible flooding as soon as it was possible,” he said.

“So this is just one of the many actions we’re taking as a government to ensure that people are provided with as much notice as possible should water events occur.”

The app is free. It is currently only available on Android devices, but will be available for iPhones within a few weeks.

Click here to download the Alberta Rivers app.

Friesenhan admits the team is open to suggestions on how it can improve the app.

“Moving forward, the sky’s the limit as far as we’re concerned. If we can add functionality that makes sense, that helps Albertans – whatever we can do,” he said.

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“We’re already thinking about crowd sourcing: if we have an event going on or someone is just out – a canoeist or a dragon boater – takes a picture of the river, can send it to us, and then ideally – with that map functionality that we have – they’d be able to add that pin and maybe just look at a photo there.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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