Radar back in action to farmers’ delight

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianCountryman
The Bureau of Meteorology in Geraldton.
Camera IconThe Bureau of Meteorology in Geraldton. Credit: Gavin Box

Farmers and firefighters applauded the return to weather radar services on the internet as the Bureau of Meteorology’s Geraldton Doppler radar came back online last week.

City of Greater Geraldton emergency operations officer Murray Smith said having up-to-date weather information made critical decision-making at incidents easier, and prepared emergency services leading up to significant weather days.

“Ultimately, this makes the community safer and more resilient,” he said.

“Real-time weather intelligence directly influences decisions by emergency services when trying to predict fire behaviour.”

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Chapman Valley farmer Anthony Farrell said the radar was an invaluable service at spraying time.

“We look at the radar and see the rain coming and make a decision whether to spray or stop,” he said.

“We use it mainly for spraying but also it is good when you see where the rain is coming and how much you are going to get.”

Farmers were generally critical of the timing of the upgrade to Doppler as it meant no Geraldton radar had been available for about three months.

Dongara farmer Andrew Gillam said there could not have been a worse time for the radar to be out of action.

“Seeding time and the early in the cropping season, that is when it gets used,” he said.

“If they are going to take it offline they should have done it in January with the intention of having it fixed by now, or wait until October.”

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said an independent analysis of the State’s Doppler radar investment showed a $3.4 million year-on-year benefit generated by reduced input costs and grains and livestock losses.

“WA now has almost complete Doppler radar coverage, with State funded services at South Doodlakine, Newdegate, Watheroo, Albany and Geraldton,” she said.

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