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

15 July 2002

New Radar to Monitor Northeast Victoria's Weather


Orchardists, farmers, tourists and the wider community will have access to the latest in weather technology following the unveiling today at Yarrawonga of a new radar by, Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage.

"The new Yarrawonga weather watch radar will provide meteorologists with detailed images of the intensity and movement of rainfall, giving more accurate warnings of storms, floods and other severe weather conditions in central and northeast Victoria and the southern Riverina", Dr Stone said.

"This will mean more accurate forecasts and warnings. Local people with internet access will also be able to track incoming weather via the Bureau's website - a helpful tool for the community, from farmers protecting their livestock, crops and orchards to parents taking their kids to weekend sport".

"Funding for the Yarrawonga radar was provided by the Howard Government as part of its commitment to ensuring the Bureau has access to the most up-to-date meteorological technology to serve rural and regional communities".

Data from the radar will be accessible to the public through the Bureau's web site at www.bom.gov.au.

"Local industries such as horticulture, dairying, orchards and wine are heavily dependent on weather conditions. Any improvement in the quality of information helps producers to make better-informed decisions and to take precautions in the face of oncoming storms".

Dr Stone said the improved weather reporting would also be beneficial for the tourism industry, another important revenue source for the northeast.

The Federal Member for Indi, Sophie Panopoulos, attended today's launch and welcomed the new service, to assist the regional economy.

"The Yarrawonga radar becomes part of the national network, with neighbouring installations at Mildura, Wagga Wagga, East Sale and Melbourne. This represents a major addition to our local infrastructure", Ms Panopoulos said.

The value of the data from the radar will be further enhanced with the installation of an Automatic Weather Station, partially funded by the local Moira Shire Council. The new station, which automatically transmits hourly observations of temperature, air pressure, rainfall and wind, will take the place of twice daily observations provided by local volunteers. Data will be transmitted via the communications line established for the radar.

A further boost to local warning services will flow from a two-year program to install a network of radar calibration rain gauges in the catchment areas of the Ovens, King and Broken Rivers. Data from these gauges will enhance the Bureau's flood forecasting capabilities, directly benefiting local emergency management planning.

"The $130,000 Federally funded upgrade is in addition to recent flood warning system upgrades in the area through the Natural Heritage Trust and the Regional Flood Mitigation Program", Dr Stone said.

During the commissioning ceremony, Dr Stone also presented Rainfall Excellence Awards to three families who have provided the Bureau with daily rainfall records for over 100 years. Mr Maurice Bandt of Redbank, 17km northwest of Avoca, accepted an award on behalf of the Bandt family who have provided rainfall data since 1897.

An award to the Hercus family, who farm at Yarrawalla South, 15km south of Pyramid Hill, was accepted by Mr Graeme Hercus. The Hercus family has taken readings since 1898.

Mr Ray Maidment of Yarroweyah, 10km west of Cobram, accepted an award on behalf of family members who have recorded daily rainfall totals since 1890. Each was presented with a framed print with an engraved commemorative plaque.

"These three families are part of a network of more than 6000 volunteers Australia-wide who record rainfall totals each day in a time-honoured tradition that can date back five generations or more", Dr Stone said.

"By acknowledging their contribution at the unveiling of this new weather watch radar, we are recognising the vital link between technology and the importance of human involvement in developing Australia's comprehensive climate record".

* Ceremony will take place at 2pm at the Yarrawonga Aerodrome, Cahill's Road, Yarrawonga

For further information;
Simon Frost, Dr Sharman Stone's office - 0419 495 468
Monday July 15th, 2002

Commonwealth of Australia