Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water
New Meteorology Office for Geraldton
18 January 2012
A new purpose-built Bureau of Meteorology weather observation office has been opened today in Geraldton.
Opening the office, Senator Don Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water said the $3.3 million Geraldton office was part of a total federal funding investment of $34 million to upgrade 12 of the Bureau's oldest meteorological offices.
"Through the program a number of offices in Western Australia have been earmarked for upgrade with Broome, Esperance and Port Hedland already completed.
"The Bureau's field offices support weather forecasting services for the community and closer links with local emergency services. This information is also vital for people employed in the marine, aviation and resources industries," he said.
The Geraldton weather radar has been reinstalled on a new tower that is twice as high as the old one, which allows the radar to provide better surveillance over a greater range. Three hydrogen-filled weather balloons are released each day and tracked by the 22m high radar. The office is staffed by three people and operates seven days a week.
In addition to upper air monitoring activities, the observers' duties include preparing half-hourly aviation weather reports, full synoptic observations every three hours, and responding to enquiries.
Bureau of Meteorology Western Australia Regional Director, Mike Bergin, said the Geraldton area was not immune to tropical cyclones, although they are less common than along Western Australia's Pilbara coast, which is the most active cyclone region in Australia.
"Based on the historical data the Bureau has collected, we might expect to see a cyclone affect Geraldton every six to eight years. Remarkably, last year saw tropical cyclone Bianca track almost as far south as Perth, before being downgraded to a tropical low," he said.
The Bureau of Meteorology's rainfall observations in Geraldton date as far back as 1877. The Geraldton Airport Meteorological Office was established in 1941 to service the RAAF Flying School, which trained pilots and navigators for service during World War II.
The office has been relocated several times due to the expansion of aviation services in Geraldton. The new office, which replaces one built in the early 1960s, is designed to be environmentally sustainable and withstand the extreme weather conditions in Australia's west.
To view the Geraldton radar loop go to http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR061.loop.shtml#skip