Online petition launched in support of Tennant Creek Radar

Beef Central, 13/11/2012

The Tennant Creek weather radar.The Tennant Creek community has launched an online petition as it steps up a fight against Federal Government plans to turn off its local weather radar next month.

The Government has stated that the Tennant Creek radar will be decommissioned and its full-time staff member relocated to another facility next month as it makes way for new technology and an automated system that will improve wind-profiling in the region.

However the local community is concerned the move will result in diminished local weather forecasting services in a region where storm activity can quickly make unsealed roads impassable after rain.

The Government says the Bureau of Meteorology will continue to provide detailed forecasts and weather observations for the Tennant Creek region, but has acknowledged there will be a reduction in the detailed weather information currently available to the the region.

Bureau of Meteorology director Dr Rob Vertessy told a recent senate estimates hearing that the consequences of the closure of radar facilities in Tennant Creek and Eucla in South Australia would be very little, because both radars were used to determine upper air wind profiles, while the new technology being introduced will provide superior information on upper air winds and means the existing radars are now surplus to requirement.  The age of the facilities also meant they were no longer cost-effective to maintain.

However he conceded that there was a downside of the closure because the Tennant Creek radar also provided local weather watch capability and the the ability to monitor local storm and rainfall conditions.

Liberal Senator for South Australia Simon Birmingham asked the Bureau chief if the capacity to monitor rain and storms in the Tennant Creek and Eucla regions would now be lost as a result of the decommisioning of both facilities.

“It is diminished somewhat,” Dr Vertessy replied, “but I would say that these are areas not noted for heavy rainfall and storms. These are pretty dry areas.”

The hearing was also told that the cuts to the Tennant Creek and Eucla radar services formed part of the Bureau’s response to a $15m in reduction in its overall budget this year.

Tennant Creek residents have started an online petition calling for the Federal Government to rethink its decision.

“The Tennant Creek weather radar is an essential tool for all of those living in this remote community,” the petition reads.

“It provides essential information to businesses (including the cattle industry), detailed data for air traffic in and out of Tennant Creek, and performs a key safety role for all members of the community. Closure of this facility will impact significantly on this community.”

Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president David Warriner recently described the decision as “cost saving gone mad” which would put lives at risk and reduce northern productivity.

The current WF100 radar was commissioned in October 2005 to replace an obsolete WF3 wind-measuring radar which had operated at the Tennant Creek Meteorological Office for the previous 32 years.

The WF100 radar has performed two roles at Tennant Creek – a weather watch capability providing detailed imagery showing the location, intensity and movement of rainfall, updated every 10 minutes, and has provided provide forecasters with improved upper wind measurements through closer tracking of a weather balloon targets.

The petition can be viewed by clicking here


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