Carpentaria mayor zeroes in on reliable radar

Mainland Gulf radar needed, according to Carpentaria mayor

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Federal government plans to site two new weather radar stations along the Flinders Highway, at Maxwelton and between Hughenden and Charters Towers, have been described as a knee-jerk reaction by a Gulf shire mayor.

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Mount Isa's doppler radar is 500km from the Gulf and on the edge of the coverage zone.

Mount Isa's doppler radar is 500km from the Gulf and on the edge of the coverage zone.

Federal government plans to site two new weather radar stations along the Flinders Highway, at Maxwelton and somewhere between Hughenden and Charters Towers, have been described as a knee-jerk reaction by a Gulf shire mayor.

Jack Bawden, the mayor of the Carpentaria Shire Council, said his residents and the Gulf fishing fleet lived with cyclones yearly and had only an unreliable system on Mornington Island to guide them.

"Mornington Island goes out pretty much every time there's a cyclone - the wind picks up and it's out for the duration," he said.

The region is 500km from Mount Isa and 700km from the Cairns radar so neither of those stations give users accurate information in real time.

"Fishermen, anyone on the water are our main concern," Cr Bawden said. "They're pretty resourceful, they get up in creeks to shelter, but they take pot luck as far as what creek to hide up if they can't track the system."

The announcement of $28 million for four new weather stations in Queensland was made in last year's federal budget and followed a visit by deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to the Flinders region after the north west monsoon disaster, where the lack of radar coverage there was impressed upon him.

"It's a knee-jerk reaction to an event that happens once in a blue moon," Cr Bawden said.

"They have a one-in-a-hundred year event and two radars get planted down there.

"We live with cyclones yearly with an unreliable system and there's no plan as such."

Related: Bureau weather station on radar

Cr Bawden said he had spoken about the Gulf's weather radar needs at flood recovery meetings with NQLIRA.

He said while Normanton had an airstrip and power nearby, Croydon had a site that would probably give better coverage to the south and north.

"I don't care where it goes; it just needs to be on the mainland where it's accessible," he said.

His call has been supported by Katter's Australian Party leader Bob Katter, who wants weather radars to be sited every 250km in regional Australia.

"The federal government promised to build new radars at Hughenden and Richmond, but they won't be delivered for another two years - this isn't acceptable," Mr Katter said. "The construction of a radar at Croydon is also a priority, as the Mornington Island radar can go down for months at a time."

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