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Joint Media release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
&
The Hon David Hawker MP
Federal Member for Gilmore

8 March 2006

New automatic weather station at Westmere to improve fire monitoring ability


The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Hon. David Hawker MP, Federal Member for Wannon, today announced that a new Automatic Weather Station has been installed at Westmere, Western Victoria.

"This new state of the art Automatic Weather Station will provide half hourly reports on forecasting data, Mr Hunt said.

"The weather station will also be able to record significant changes in the weather such as wind direction and sudden temperature change.

"This will be especially useful during the fire season and will help the Bureau of Meteorology to assist emergency services and the local community to be able to ensure the protection of life and property during peak fire season.

"All weather reports will be forwarded to the Country Fire Authority and the Fire Management Branch of the Department of Sustainability and Environment every 10 minutes during hazardous conditions to ensure that fire authorities have the most recent information.

Mr Hunt said he congratulated Federal Member for Wannon, the Hon. David Hawker MP, on his commitment to improving weather services in Western Victoria.

Mr Hawker said this latest Automatic Weather Station has been one of many new upgrades to weather technology in the region.

"New automatic weather stations have been installed at Casterton, Edenhope, Hopetoun and Mt William - the highest point of the Grampians - to improve fire detection services," Mr Hawker said.

"The latest new Automatic Weather Station at Westmere will fill a gap in the network which will further assist in the location and accurate timing of wind changes as they move towards central Victoria as well as for fire weather forecasting purposes."

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) installed several Automatic Weather Stations in western Victoria in the late 1980s, following serious wildfires in 1977, 1983 and 1985 and has been operating the weather stations but is now contributing to their replacement and upgrade and handing over operations to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Mr Hunt said the new Automatic Weather Station at Westmere will become part of the Bureau's network of over 500 Automatic Weather Stations nationwide.

The data will be publicly accessible from 8 March via the Bureau website at: http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDV65121.shtml.

Media enquiries:
Kristy McSweeney 0415 740 722 (Mr Hunt's office)
Jane Templeton (Mr Hawker's office) 02 6277 4000

Commonwealth of Australia