LONG suffering Wimmera-Mallee farmers are delighted with the news the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has finally decided on a location for a new Doppler radar.
This week Andrew Tupper, BOM Victoria state manager revealed the radar would be built in the farming district of Pullut, 10 kilometres south of the southern Mallee township of Rainbow.
It is expected the radar will be operational by mid-2020, if not earlier.
The radar, believed to be the first one built across the country since 2005, will provide valuable weather data for one of Australia’s premier agricultural regions, which previously was in a black spot in terms of radar coverage, in between existing units at Mildura and Mt Gambier.
The news that a site has been chosen marks the end to drawn-out preliminary work, with the funding for the $5 million radar first announced in April 2016.
Funds for the construction of the equipment will come from the Victorian state government, while the federal government will contribute $3.5 million, the budgeted operational costs for the radar for 15 years.
Speaking at the announcement of the location Ralph Kenyon, executive director of the Wimmera Development Association, which played a key role in lobbying for the radar, said the equipment would quickly pay for itself.
“We have done the cost-benefit analysis and the savings made by Wimmera-Mallee farmers alone on fertiliser and chemical costs by knowing whether rain is going to come or not will total $3.5 million per annum,” Mr Kenyon said.
“This means the radar will have paid for itself in just two and a half years, it really is a critical piece of equipment for the region.”
Dr Tupper said the radar would enhance short-term rainfall forecasts and assist BOM experts during severe weather events.
He said the system would be a dual polarised doppler radar, which are regarded as providing the best tools for observing real-time rainfall, storms and even debris in the atmosphere, across large areas.
Radars use electromagnetic waves similar to wireless computer networks and mobile phones to detect rain drops, hail or snow; Doppler radars can also measure wind by detecting the speed of movement of the water that they encounter.
Dr Tupper said innovations meant there were less problems with other phenomena triggering the radar, such as dust or even flocks of birds with newer equipment than older radars, meaning more accurate readings.
“There are still issues with interference but this radar will feature the newest technology,” he said.
The state-of-the-art radar is now under construction in Germany and is due to begin operating in mid-2020, if not slightly earlier.