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Joint Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray
&
Mr Bob Baldwin
Member for Paterson

26 June 2003

New Radar to Boost Weather-Watch Services for Newcastle


A new weather-watch surveillance radar installed at Lemon Tree Passage, some 30 kilometres north-east of Newcastle, will provide a substantial boost for local weather services.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology, will officially open the new installation on 27 June with Mr Bob Baldwin MP, Member for Paterson.

Dr Stone said the radar would provide meteorologists with sophisticated imagery showing the intensity, location and movement of rainfall. 'This will enable forecasters to monitor weather patterns and detect conditions that may lead to thunderstorms, floods or other severe weather events', said Dr Stone.

Mr Baldwin said, 'The radar will provide enhanced coverage for the wider Newcastle area, including locations such as the Hunter Valley, Raymond Terrace, Forster, Taree, Scone, Singleton and Cessnock, as well as a back-up service for Sydney and the Central Coast'.

'Weather-sensitive activities such as civil aviation and RAAF operations at the nearby Williamtown air base, and industries including farming, tourism and wine-making, all important to the local economy, will reap rewards from enhanced and more timely information for decision-making' said Mr Baldwin.

Dr Stone said 'The new radar at Lemon Tree Passage replaces an obsolete unit based at Williamtown and will provide uninterrupted weather-watch coverage over the Newcastle region. It also operates with a narrower radar beam width, which improves its ability to delineate storms.' The previous unit had to interrupt its weather-watch activities each day to track weather balloons as part of the Bureau's wind surveillance operations.

Dr Stone said that the new $1.5 million radar was provided by the Howard Government. 'This injection of funds underlines the Government's continuing recognition of the importance of the services provided by the Bureau of Meteorology and its commitment to ensuring the Bureau has access to the modern technology needed to carry out its functions', said Dr Stone.

Real-time imagery from the radar will be freely available to the community through the Bureau's website at www.bom.gov.au, one of the most accessed sites in Australia.

Further Information:
Andrew Cox, Dr Stone's office - 0408 057 226
Bob Baldwin MP, Member for Paterson - 0419 694 620
Geoff Crane, Bureau of Meteorology, NSW Regional Office - 02 9296 1555

Commonwealth of Australia