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The Bureau Of Meteorology's New Doppler Weather Radar

I first noticed this giant "golf ball" last year, sitting high on its "tee", right next to the Terrey Hills golf driving range in Sydney's north. "Surely," I thought, "that's not just an advert for the driving range . . ." No it's not (although I bet they are very grateful!) ? it's much more interesting than that ? it's the latest in the Bureau of Meteorology weather radar upgrades! And the best part: you can view its images via the 'net.

By Ross Tester

Weather forecasting around Australia has become even more accurate and precise with the opening of several new high-resolution Doppler weather radar installations.

With the newest at Laverton (Vic), Mt Stapylton (Brisbane, Qld) and now at Terrey Hills in Sydney’s north, each has already proved their $4 million price tags money well spent.

You can become your own weather forecaster by following the weather radar images on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.

The images from the newest technology weather radars cover the last half hour with screens six minutes apart. Older radars have images 10 minutes apart.

There’s always a lag of up to about eight minutes – you can look out the window and see that it’s raining where you are when the screen tells you that the rain is still approaching (and vice versa). That’s mainly because of the incredible amount of computer “number crunching” then the upload times to the net.

You get the choice of 64, 128 and 256km range, plus a 512km “composite” interpolated from other radars. You can also enable or disable a variety of map features, such as locations, roads, topography, etc.

Rainfall is colour-coded by intensity – my experience is that anything yellow or above is getting rather heavy!

You can log on to the Bureau’s website (www.bom.gov.au) and follow the prompts – the Terrey Hills radar images, for example, are at www.bom.gov.au/products/IDR714.loop.shtml#skip.

But there’s a lot more than just radar images to look at. The Bureau has a vast array of tools to help the average person understand what the images represent and how to use them.

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