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Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 3, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba Weather forecasts often miss mark, prof says By Scott Edmonds Canadian Press WINNIPEG— Here it is, raining again when we were told a few days ago it was going to be hot and sunny. Ask just about anyone, except perhaps a meteorologist, and you won’t get a fight if you suggest the only thing certain in Canada is that you can’t trust the weather forecast. A University of Manitoba assistant professor got his second-year weather and climate students to prove it, at least to his satisfaction. And one of the villains of the piece for John Hanesiak is the computer model that continues to replace human forecasters, although his contention is challenged by Environment Canada. Hanesiak had his students check long-range forecasts during January and February issued by both Environment Canada and the Weather Network. “They were actually quite surprised to see how low the numbers were,” he said yesterday. Environment Canada’s fifth-day forecast during the period was accurate on daytime highs only 13 per cent of the time. The Weather Network didn’t even rate that high, hitting the mark only six per cent of the time. Hanesiak says when it comes to relying on a forecast, only those a day or two in advance seemed worth much. “If you’re looking for a Saturday forecast, wait until at least Thursday, that would be my advice,” he said. “If you can wait until Friday, much better.” He says computer models alone are used for the extended forecasts and he doesn’t think they can be relied on as much as human forecasters. Hanesiak, who spent two years as an Environment Canada forecaster before moving to the university, claims the computers can’t match the experience of a seasoned meteorologist. “That’s one thing that the computer models don’t have.” Environment Canada’s Jay Anderson disagrees. “They may get the amounts wrong and they might be off by six hours, but they’re pretty good,” he said. “I’ve become a believer ... the Day 3 forecasts now are as accurate as the Day I ones were IO years ago.” In Hanesiak’s little test, the current day, and next-day forecast produced by Environment Canada hit the mark 75 per cent and 60 per cent respectively. Anderson is quick to add that part of the second-day forecast is done entirely by computer and revised only in the afternoon by a forecaster. In fact, he says all forecasters really do is examine computer models. But starting with the third day, the computer does all the work, and the professor’s students found accuracy drops to 23 per cent and just keeps falling. “That’s where you see the most dramatic decline in accuracy.” Flood fund rules anger some WINNIPEG — Some people who were flooded out in southeastern Manitoba are upset about a government loophole that disqualifies them from disaster relief. Winifred Wolanski, whose hobby farm near Vita was flooded three weeks ago after heavy rains, won’t likely qualify for thousands of dollars in compensation because most of her family’s income isn’t earned from the farm. “This is not fair. I’m still a full-time farmer,” said Wolanski. “I’ve come to the end of my rope." The province’s Disaster Financial Assistance Policy defines a farmer as “a person who derives his/her sole or major source of income from farming.” Wolanski’s sheep and goat farm earns less money than her husband’s part-time job at the Vita hospital. That means she can’t get provincial flood compensation for a contaminated well, a rotten and corroded barn and skinny, stressed-out livestock. Wally Happychuk, the region’s provincial agricultural representative, agreed the loophole was causing concern among smaller farmers. Paul Anderson, an official with Manitoba’s Emergency Management Organization, said the province’s policy is made in conjunction with the federal government, which funds part of the disaster relief program. Manitoba and several other provinces have been trying since 1998 to alter the policy. “The current ‘50 per cent or more’ rule doesn’t recognize the current farm economy,“ said Anderson. “More and more farmers are relying on off-farm income.” —Canadian Press Learning can be fun Families choose flats, abandon their pets COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Robert Ironstand plays a drum for students enrolled in Mini-University, yesterday afternoon. It was the first day of the summer program for children at Brandon University.Transfusions halted, Calgary teenager lies near death CALGARY — The Alberta government has given up its efforts to force a teenaged Jehovah’s Witness to receive blood transfusions as part of her leukemia treatment, saying the treatment has not been successful. The girl had opposed the transfusions on the basis of religious beliefs, but her doctors said the treatment represented her only chance for survival. In a makeshift courtroom at Alberta Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, family court Judge Gail Vickery lifted the temporary provincial guadianship that had allowed the treatment to proceed. The ruling came after the 16-year-old girl pleaded from a wheelchair for the right to make her own medical decisions. “Why cause me any more pain when I’m most likely going to die anyways?” the girl said. “I do appreciate the choice, but I will most likely die. I’d rather go down fighting, but I choose not to take the blood transfusions.” Doctors now say the girl has only a IO per cent chance of surviving and they’re prescribing palliative care. The legal battle has split her family, with her father consenting to the treatment and her mother and two sisters opposing it. “I’m very upset that the judge has passed the sentence of death for my daughter,” the girls father said outside the hospital. “When do you start to give up on some person’s life — especially your daughter?” —Canadian Press By Ross Marowits Canadian Press MONTREAL — The fallout from Montreal’s worst housing crisis in memory can be seen in the frightened eyes of hundreds of abandoned pets. Inside the city’s main adoption centre, dogs stared wearily at visitors yesterday, appearing to gauge if the person was friend or foe. The younger ones barked, squealed, cried and shook in a play for attention. The older ones didn’t even bother. A greying cocker spaniel, who looked to have enjoyed many family leftovers, stood silently as a succession of people passed her by. This has been the scene over the past three weeks, as two area SPCA shelters received an unprecedented number of pets abandoned by owners before Quebec’s traditional moving day on July I. At one point the humane' society reported 15 animals were being dropped off every hour by owners who moved into apartments that don’t take pets. Around 300 animals have been placed in foster homes until some calm is restored. But 800 more have been locked in cages, straining the organization’s capacity. “It is beyond what’s acceptable,” says Pierre Barnoti, executive director of the city’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “We have cats and kittens housed in rabbit cages.” The province’s animal shelters have been faced with abandoned dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, gerbils, hamsters and ferrets every summer. But this year’s influx is nearly 50 per cent CANADIAN PRESS A dog waits to be given up for adoption at the SPCA shelter in Montreal yesterday. The animal shelter is being inundated with pets by owners who moved to apartments that don’t take pets. The situation is unique to Montreal where most leases expire on June 30. greater than usual. The scene of frantic dogs pleading for their freedom inside the sweltering confines of their cages proved to be disturbing for an emotional Jennifer Hart. “They’re depending on us and we’ve let them down,” she said while completing adoption papers with her daughter to rescue a dog from likely death. The intense shortage of rental units has forced tenants to make the unwelcome choice between family friend and suitable accommodation. Some pets were quickly dropped off at shelters. Others were left to roam the streets only to return to find unfamiliar faces in their homes. A few animals were left to die without water or food in stifling apartments. Jury finds man guilty of manslaughter WINNIPEG — A man who knocked a jogger off a bridge after a brief confrontation last summer was found guilty yesterday of manslaughter. Christopher Haight, 19, had originally been charged with second-degree murder, but the jury found he did not mean to kill Bradford McLean, 17. The trial had been told Haight and his friend Dwayne Ritchot were walking across the Redwood Bridge on their way home from work on Oct. 11, 2000, when a drunken McLean jogged up to them. Ritchot testified that McLean, a stranger to them both, stopped and asked, “What the ... are you looking at?” Ritchot told court that Haight threw McLean off the bridge, and that the pair then shouted and cursed at him, yelling at him to swim as they watched him flail in the water. But defence lawyer Greg Brodsky argued that while his client gave McLean a shove to knock him over, he had no intention of pushing him over the railing and into the Red River below. “Its profound what things can happen to people in a snap,” Brodsky said. "This was not a murder. It was an overreaction to a perceived threat. And nobody thought what would happen when (the victim) hit the water.” Canadian Press 1V/Ton    nrmtinop in 14.1 x ii ti v/ k. t J/ a vy » mw VV V V A I n iii lot \u oi I on jaiuivyuov WINNIPEG — A former inmate who claims he was lured into a jailhouse running race in the hope of winning tobacco is suing the Manitoba government over alleged injuries, including a wound to his genitals. The man, who was seeking unspecified damages, said the June 2000 race ended abruptly when he fell on gravel and had to be rushed to hospital. George Funk, the man’s lawyer, said it was wrong for staff at Winnipeg’s    Headingley Correctional Centre to use tobacco as a prize. “As is often the case, many inmates smoke cigarettes and if you’re using that as a real incentive to succeed in the race ... you might go to extreme lengths to do so,” Funk said yesterday. “This sort of incentive should really be against public policy.” Funk said the man also sustained a fractured left femur. n in ni ti I Uliiilil^ iUGL The complainant lives in Winnipeg as an unemployed labourer. He has been unable to work because he still suffers pain in his left leg and knee, alleges his lawsuit. The province has 20 days to file a statement of defence. Canadian Press (db - y Aa Dr. Jay T. Winburn Dr. Jeffrey Bales Qualified orthodontists Phone 727-0401 Edmonton standoff ends peacefully EDMONTON (CP)— A man with a history of psychiatric problems who was angry at the federal government took an Alberta Crown prosecutor hostage with a fake bomb for four hours yesterday. The man, who was taken to hospital for a pre-existing physical problem after negotiators reached a peaceful end to the standoff, kicked in the door to the sixth-floor prosecutors’ offices in an Alberta government building at about IO a.m. He had what he claimed was a bomb strapped to his body. Police evacuated the building, as well as the west side of police headquarters facing it. Although early information indicated the Edmonton man, 51, was angry about a court case, negotiators established that it was the federal government, not the province, that was the man’s intended target. 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