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Joint Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray
The Hon De-Anne Kelly MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Federal Member for Dawson

29 June 2004

Keeping an eye on the storms in central Queensland

More precise tracking of tropical cyclones that can threaten the popular Queensland tourist destinations of Bowen, the Whitsunday Islands and nearby sections of the Great Barrier Reef will now be possible with the opening of a new weather radar at Abbot Point near Bowen.

Dr Sharman Stone, Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, will officially commission the new installation tomorrow [30/06/04] at the Flagstaff Hill Interpretive Centre in Bowen.

Dr Stone said the $1.5 million provided for this radar demonstrated the federal Government's continued recognition of the importance of delivering Bureau services to regional Australia.

"The new radar at Abbot Point, north of Bowen, complements existing radars at Townsville and Mackay. It will allow Bureau weather forecasters and the public, through the Bureau's website, to more easily detect and accurately track severe weather events, including tropical cyclones and heavy rains along the Queensland coast.

"Over the past 15 years, two cyclones have tracked between the radars at Townsville and Mackay, providing good reason to establish the Bowen weather radar. Tropical Cyclone Celeste in 1996 and Cyclone Aivu in 1989 were not well tracked by the existing radar coverage, however, these cyclones would have been very well covered by the new radar at Abbot Point."

Dr Stone acknowledged the work the Hon. De-Anne Kelly, Federal Member for Dawson, had done to ensure central Queensland had access to modern meteorological services including more accurate information about the intensity of rainfall.

"Mrs Kelly understands the importance of accurate rainfall information for the Don and Burdekin River catchments as flooding in the lower reaches of the Don River, near Bowen, can occur less than 12 hours after heavy rain in the upper reaches of the river," Dr Stone said.

Mrs Kelly welcomed the new installation and said it was commercially important to the local region.

"Earlier and more precise tracking of approaching severe weather, including tropical cyclones, will give the many local people engaged in recreational boating, marine tourism and fishing the time to find a safe harbour," Mrs Kelly said.

"It will also help drive the export dollar further in one of Queensland's biggest export industries, coal, as the Abbot Point coal export terminal services many bulk coal carriers and tugs."

Imagery from the Bureau's network of weather radars, along with information on river heights and rainfall intensity, is freely available on the Bureau web site, consistently rated one of Australia's most popular websites with between 300 and 400 million hits a month.

Commonwealth of Australia