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

29 July 2004

Capturing a century of our weather extremes


Do you remember Christmas day 1974 and the devastation that was Cyclone Tracy? Or how Elizabeth Street in downtown Melbourne was turned into a raging torrent following a record 79 mm of rain in one hour on 17 February 1972?

This Friday, 30 July 2004, you have a chance to delve into some of Australia's unique weather history with the launch of Drought, Dust and Deluge - a century of climate extremes in Australia , a publication by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for the Australia Bureau of Meteorology will launch the book at 10 am at the State Library of Victoria conference centre lounge, Entry 3, La Trobe St, Melbourne.

Dr Stone said that for many of us, talk of extreme weather is fascinating. "We often ask ourselves if a severe storm is the worst ever or the result of climate change," Dr Stone said.

"We live in a land of weather contrasts and this book outlines 50 major weather events of the 20 th Century including the Black Friday bushfires of 1939, the Federation drought and the Queensland floods of 1916 that resulted in 61 deaths.

"Thunderstorms, major bushfires, droughts, tropical cyclones, heatwaves, cold outbreaks and other events are showcased including lesser-known events such as the freak conditions of 26 August 1982 in southern Tasmania. On this day immense 15 metre swells struck the coast despite fine conditions with light winds.

"This book is a fascinating read and one that will appeal to all readers who have a keen interest in Australia's weather history.

"For each of the 50 events it includes the meteorological background to the event along with an outline of the impact on people, the environment and the local or national economy."

The book will be sold at Bureau offices around the country for $20.00. It can also be ordered by telephone on (03) 9669 4312 or through the Bureau's website at www.bom.gov.au. An outline of the book will be available on the Bureau's website at www.bom.gov.au/climate/environ/drought-dust-deluge.shtml from 30 July.

Several Bureau staff with personal experience of some of the events depicted in the book (including a meteorologist whose Darwin house was blown away around him during Cyclone Tracy) will be present and available for interviews following the launch.

The media is invited to attend.

Commonwealth of Australia