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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP
Federal Member for Murray
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
for the Environment and Heritage


00 - 242
23 October 2000

Embargoed until 12.00pm Monday 23 October 2000

New weather 'dish' for rural Victoria


A new weather radar system is to be installed in North-Central Victoria the Federal Member for Murray, Sharman Stone announced at the opening of a climate conference in Albury today.

Sharman Stone, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, said the new radar would fill in the gap for radar coverage that has long extended over central Victoria.

The radar would be installed by the Bureau of Meteorology and would improve short-term forecasting of severe storms and floods over much of northern Victoria and parts of southern New South Wales. It was expected to be operational by March 2002, she said.

"The exact site for the radar installation should be finalised in the coming weeks," Sharman Stone said.

Sharman Stone, who has responsibility for the Bureau, made the announcement at Cli-Manage 2000, a three-day conference on the use of climate information in decision making, particularly in the rural sector. The conference has been convened by the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre and is being help at the Albury Convention and Performing Arts Centre.

"The new radar dish planned for North-Central Victoria will take the number of Weather Watch radars in Victoria to four. The new radar will cover an area bisected by the Murray River, which is not covered by existing Bureau radars at Mildura, Melbourne and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

"More than 50 radars now make up the Bureau network, which almost completely covers the Australian coastline. It is particularly valuable for regions subject to severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and tropical cyclones. Horticultural areas covered by the radar can expect better warnings for hail and thunderstorms - a major problem during critical times in the growing season." Sharman Stone said.

The new C-brand radar operates by transmitting powerful pulses of microwave energy. Microwaves hitting rain drops rebound back to the radar site. The microwave beam sweeps around 360 degrees, travels 200 to 300 kilometres, and has a wavelength of five centimetres.

The return signal is collected in the radar dish and will indicate the location of the rain - measured by how long it takes for the beam to rebound - and the intensity of the rainfall - indicated by the strength of the return signal.

This information is transmitted to the Bureau's head office in Melbourne and, as with all Bureau radars, it is then made available as an on-screen display to all forecasting desks. The image is updated every 10 minutes. This information is also made publicly available on the Bureau's website (www.bom.gov.au).

Further information:
Dr Sharman Stone's office, tel (02) 6277 2016
Dr John Zillman, Director, Bureau of Meteorology, tel (03) 9669 4558
Dr Bill Downey, Assistant Director (Executive and International Affairs
Branch), Bureau of Meteorology, tel (03) 9669 4534
Mark Jenkin, Public Affairs Unit, Bureau of Meteorology, tel (03) 9669 4552

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