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Joint Media Release
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Federal Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP
Federal Member for Wentworth
Malcolm Turnbull MP

17 December 2004

Picturing a severe storm just a keystroke away

Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and Mr Malcolm Turnbull, Federal Member for Wentworth, today launched a new weather service that will give Sydneysiders better online access and more frequent updates to thunderstorm warnings in the Sydney area.

The new severe thunderstorm warning system was launched in Sydney - the first Australian capital city to use the new computer based forecasting system.

Mr Hunt said one of the benefits of the new system was how easy it was for households to access information in real time about a pending thunderstorm and what action to take to protect home and property.

"The warnings are freely available on the Bureau's website and give simple information and maps with suburb names to help householders work out where the storm is in relation to their home," Mr Hunt said.

"Advice on what to do in the event of a storm for example including moving your car under cover or away from trees and keeping children and pets indoors is also provided. Because the new system takes less time to prepare warnings and the delivery is faster, this means updates can be more frequent giving householders more time to take appropriate action.

"I congratulate the Bureau of Meteorology on providing this new warning service to the people of Sydney and New South Wales."

Mr Turnbull said the new system was particularly important to Sydneysiders given the recent storms that affected the capital last Monday [13 December 2004].

"In Australia, more damage is caused each year by severe storms than by tropical cyclones, earthquakes, floods or bushfires," Mr Turnbull said

"Sydney's biggest storms occur in the warmer months from October to April and while we can't stop a storm, we can be better prepared to protect our lives and property from the impact of a storm."

The software for the new system was developed in Australia by the Bureau of Meteorology's Research Centre in Melbourne in conjunction with Bureau forecasters in Sydney and the NSW State Emergency Service.

The system was tested by key emergency services clients to ensure its use in providing services to the public. An early prototype was tested during the Sydney Olympics.

Similar systems are planned for all the Bureau's capital city offices. Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne installations are expected during 2005. New radars to be installed as part of a Federal Government-funded $62.2 million upgrade of Bureau radars across Australia will complement the new services.

The new system will be available from the Bureau's website at Text-based warnings are available for the cost of a local call on 1300 659 218.

Media enquiries:
Fiona Murphy (Mr Hunt's office) 0423 577 045
Anthony Orkin (Mr Turnbull's office) 02 9369 5221

Commonwealth of Australia