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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 April 2002

Bureau Forecasting a Bright Future for Rural Communities

Detailed weather and climate information is more vital to rural and regional communities than ever before, according to the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone.

For years farmers and natural resource managers have wanted long-term, accurate and detailed weather forecasting. Today an accurate, detailed, 7 day a week forecast service, has become a reality.

Dr Stone, who is responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology and herself a farmer, launched the new Telstra 'Premium Weather' service at the Big Hill Vineyard, south of Bendigo.

"PremiumWeatherTM, is a specialised Internet-based seven day forecast service, built on the Bureau of Meteorology's popular poll-fax service FARMWEATHER. It combines the resources of the Bureau's Special Services Unit with the communications expertise of Telstra", Dr Stone said.

PremiumWeather is based on the Bureau's basic day to day weather forecasting and warning services which will continue to be provided free to the community through the mass media and the Bureau's web-site - the most frequently accessed web-site in Australia, however according to Dr Stone, PremiumWeather is unique in a number of ways.

"The new features of PremiumWeather are the expert commentary written by professional meteorologists, the fact that experienced meteorologists have analysed the available data and computer model output to meet the special needs of rural and remote clients, and, that Premium Weather is completely Australian in content", Dr Stone said.

"Telstra's PremiumWeather provides seven day forecasts of temperature, wind conditions, rainfall, humidity and several agricultural indices tailored to assist rural producers in their decision making".

For example, the importance of activities such as spraying is reflected in the first 36 hours' forecasts; within this period the forecast is given in three hourly intervals. Moving loops of satellite and radar imagery are also provided as well as representations of temperature, wind speed and direction and pressure patterns up to seven days ahead.

"PremiumWeather provides a tailored meteorological service for the rural community, helping to take the guess work out of planting, picking and spraying", Dr Stone said.

Simon Frost 0419 495 468
Wednesday April 3rd, 2002

Commonwealth of Australia