Weather on the budget radar

North west weather radar in 2019 federal budget


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Australia's weather radar network, such as this one at Terrey Hills in Sydney, will be boosted by four new stations in Queensland. Picture - Tony Walters.

Australia's weather radar network, such as this one at Terrey Hills in Sydney, will be boosted by four new stations in Queensland. Picture - Tony Walters.

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Six weeks on from the disastrous rain event in north west Queensland, the federal government has announced there will be $28 million in next week's budget for four new weather radars for Queensland.

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Six weeks on from the disastrous rain event in north west Queensland, the federal government has announced there will be $28 million in next week's budget for a weather monitoring package that includes four new weather radars for Queensland.

Two of them will be placed in the north west, at Maxwelton and between Charters Towers and Hughenden, while another two will be sited at Taroom and Oakey.

It was one of the major items highlighted when deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack visited Hughenden in the wake of the February flooding, and the news has been welcomed by Flinders mayor Jane McNamara.

"It was a terrible thing that happened but it put the spotlight firmly on the things we need," she said.

"We usually use Longreach's radar and it was offline through the whole event.

"Regardless, we are on the periphery of every current radar and none of them give you an indication of the amount of rain you might expect.

"There are a lot of properties with no people on them anymore, to give you local knowledge, and local disaster relief agencies that are making calls on evacuating people need accurate data."

Mr McCormack said the investment was vital and something he was proud to have played a role in helping come to fruition.

The sites were chosen on the basis of addressing community concerns and enhancing monitoring following floods in North Queensland, and to address known gaps across the south east.

The radars are expected to come online from 2021, given that manufacture takes between 12 and 18 months and the installation a further six months.

The news came as complaints mounted this week about the Longreach radar being offline again, as another large weather event was predicted for the region.

It has since returned to operation.

Environment Minister Melissa Price said the radar stations, plus new rain gauges in the upper Burdekin region, would enable the Bureau of Meteorology to provide more accurate and effective flood advice and help producers mitigate impacts by moving livestock or mobile infrastructure to higher ground in advance, where possible.

"We've been right behind communities across North Queensland since the floods and these investments show we're in this for the long haul."

State KAP leader and Member for Traeger Robbie Katter described the news as bringing people in his electorate out of the meteorological dark.

As a pilot, he said the absence of weather radars in the region meant he often had to rely on only sketchy information when planning flights.

"It's more effective to check the weather the old-fashioned way by looking out your window in these parts, however that simply won't do when it comes to major weather events like that we have just experienced," he said.

"I trust that with these news radars on their way, this will all be a thing of the past but it is regrettable that it took the disastrous rain event of last month to see action on this."

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