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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

2 July 2004

Brisbane is centre for storm talks

Brisbane will be the storm capital of the world next week as around 250 delegates from Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region converge for the International Conference on Storms beginning Monday [5 July 2004].

The science of storms including predictions, impacts and mitigation responses will be the focus of the five-day event .

The conference is organised by the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS), an independent Australian society that supports and fosters interest in meteorology, oceanography and other related sciences. The Bureau of Meteorology is a major co-sponsor of the conference.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said the sharing of information was vital. The participation of delegates included the largest ever contingent of 58 participants from developing nations.

" Over 80 per cent of all natural disasters are meteorological or hydrological in origin and n either storms nor disasters recognise international boundaries," Dr Stone said.

"As our population grows and asset values increase, we need to be aware of the damaging impact of storms on the community and the pressure it places on weather forecasting resources.

"Not only do we need to understand the causes of storms and how to adequately predict them, we also need to ensure we have appropriate short and long-term mitigation measures in place.

"International co-operation is extremely important and timely forecasts and warnings based on the global exchange of meteorological and oceanographic data are essential to understanding storms and establishing the infrastructure to effectively mitigate against their impact."

In Australia, the most costly weather related insurance losses are from hailstorms, bushfires and floods. On 18 January 1985, Australia's biggest thunderstorm left a 12 km wide swath of damage, 30 kilometres long and extended from the southwestern to the northern suburbs of Brisbane. It caused insurance losses in excess of $300 million.

"The costliest storm ever in Australia was the Sydney hailstorm of April 1999. It caused insurance losses of over $1 billion," Dr Stone said.

Commonwealth of Australia