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"Gold Medal" forecasting for Sydney Games

Sydney weather forecasts will become even more accurate, with an enhanced ability to detect and predict thunderstorms and other severe weather during the 2000 Olympic Games, when a new radar comes on line today.

Sydney's new 'doppler' radar will be commissioned by Dr Sharman Stone MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. This will be the first time a doppler radar has been used by the Bureau of Meteorology for forecasting in Australia.

"This new $1.25m radar, to be located at Kurnell, will enhance weather forecasting in the Sydney region. Doppler radars used in the US and Canada have led to noticeable improvements to warnings of severe weather events such as thunderstorms", Dr Stone said.

"Built at an overall cost of $1.25m, the radar tower is 22m high and allows a forecasting range of 150 kms".

Doppler radars generate more information about rainfall and wind patterns than conventional radars and assist meteorologists to more accurately forecast thunderstorms and events such as Sydney's southerly buster.

"The new radar will be able to better predict wind shear, aiding the safe operation of Sydney Airport. The radar is so sensitive that it can pick up swarms of insects - this will have applications in rural areas in helping to track insect plagues in the near future", Dr Stone said.

The new Kurnell Radar forms part of the Commonwealth Government's extensive commitment to the Sydney Olympics.

"$2.7m has been spent by the Bureau to ensure that the Sydney Games has the best possible weather forecasting capabilities to cater for the hundreds of thousands of athletes, officials and spectators that will converge on the city during the Olympic fortnight".

"A feature of the Olympic Service will be the greater frequency of forecasts. Along with the normal maximum and minimum temperatures, predictions for temperature, rainfall, wind and humidity will be made every three hours."

The Bureau has supplemented its normal Sydney forecasting contingent with an additional 20 interstate forecasters and staff for the Games, while 2 forecasters from Athens will see first hand how Australia's Bureau of Meteorology has prepared for the event.

"Today's commissioning of the Kurnell Radar will give Sydneysiders up to the minute, accurate and reliable weather information for the Olympic fortnight and well into the future".

For further information go to Department of the Environment and Heritage or see more on Meteorology at www.bom.gov.au

See also www.australia.org.nz

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