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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

3 September 2001

Weather Radar to Give Northern Victoria an 'Early Warning'


A new weather watch radar to be built at Yarrawonga will make a major contribution to the accuracy and timing of flood warnings, storms and unusual weather conditions in Central and North East Victoria and the Southern Riverina, according to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage and Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone.

Dr Stone who is responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology unveiled a plaque to mark the commencement of construction today in a ceremony at the Yarrawonga aerodrome attended by local community leaders, orchardists and farmers who will directly benefit from the new radar.

"Our fruit, dairying and wine industries are heavily weather dependent and the information that they will be able to download from the Bureau's website will allow them to track unusual weather occurrences which have become all too familiar in northern Victoria over the last few years", Sharman Stone said.

"The radar has been funded by the Federal Government as part of its investment in the Bureau of Meteorology to give it the most modern and technologically advanced weather monitoring capability in the world".

"The new radar should be operational by March next year, will provide a more detailed picture of the intensity and movement of areas of heavy rain, and earlier warnings of hail and severe storms. This will give people more time to take precautions and protect property and lives", Sharman Stone said.

Additional rain gauges will also be installed in the catchment areas of the Ovens, Goulburn, King and Broken Rivers and their communication links with Melbourne upgraded so that real time data on rainfall will be available for faster warnings. The additional and faster information will make an important contribution to local emergency planning, and will improve flood mapping.

The funding for the upgrade of the gauges was provided from the Natural Heritage Trust, which has funded 1755 community projects and invested over $185m in Victoria alone.

The Yarrawonga radar will mean there will be four weather watch radars in Victoria. The information from all the radars is freely available on the Bureau of Meteorology's web site at www.bom.gov.au. Other weather watch radars are located at East Sale, Melbourne and Mildura, as well as Wagga Wagga in the Riverina.

"I am also announcing today, that the aerial coverage of all the images from the Bureau of Meteorology's radar network throughout Australia will be extended from 128 kilometres to 256 kilometres on the Bureau's web site.

"This amounts to about a four fold increase in coverage, closing the gaps that presently exist in Victoria".

"More people living in rural and regional areas will be able to take advantage of the information provided by the radar network and the record $212m investment by the Bureau this year", Sharman Stone said.

For further information contact:
Simon Frost 0419 495 468

September 3rd 2001

Commonwealth of Australia