Weather bureau un­der fire for cy­clone re­sponse

Whitsunday Times - - CYCLONE DYLAN - THE AFTERMATH - By Sharon Small­wood

THE Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy (BOM) came un­der fire when Queens­land Premier Camp­bell New­man and Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter David Crisa­fulli vis­ited Air­lie Beach in the wake of Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Dy­lan on Fri­day.

At a press con­fer­ence near Air­lie La­goon, both politi­cians ex­pressed con­cerns about the tim­ing and ac­cu­racy of in­for­ma­tion de­liv­ered to the pub­lic by the BOM.

“When I went to bed in Townsville at 10 o’clock, the cy­clone at that stage was pro­jected to come in over the towns of Ayr and Home Hill and when I woke up at 5am... I was frankly sur­prised to see that, as the crow flies, it was cross­ing the coast 140km to the south, so things did change overnight and I think in this day and age we need to en­sure that peo­ple get the most ac­cu­rate and de­tailed in­for­ma­tion as soon as pos­si­ble,” Mr New­man said.

Mr Crisa­fulli was a lit­tle more blunt in his assess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing the BOM’s re­sponse was lazy and in­com­pe­tent.

“This here was a dress re­hearsal for an event which will be a much big­ger one in the fu­ture and the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy left their cos­tume in the cloak­room,” Mr Crisa­fulli said.

“They went to sleep and the peo­ple I rep­re­sent were left vul­ner­a­ble and we’re not go­ing to let them get away with that.” Mr Crisa­fulli said claims that the bureau was un­der-re­sourced were “a cop-out”.

“What sort of re­sources does it take to click a mouse a few times to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion in real time,” he asked.

“This is not about re­sources – this is about a cul­ture and the cul­ture went wrong.”

Queens­land re­gional di­rec­tor for BOM, Rob Webb, said he was sur­prised by the crit­i­cism, claim­ing the rel­e­vant com­mu­ni­ties had been ad­e­quately warned.

He said the bureau up­graded its warn­ings from six to three hours ear­lier than nor­mal and is­sued a warn­ing at 2am be­fore the cy­clone's 3.30am cross­ing of the coast, with a fur­ther up­date at 5am.

None­the­less, the bureau has now com­mit­ted to is­su­ing hourly cy­clone warn­ing up­dates for all cy­clones cross­ing the coast, as op­posed to the pre­vi­ous pol­icy of only is­su­ing three-hourly up­dates for cat­e­gory one or two cy­clones.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Daw­son Ge­orge Chris­tensen said he was pleased to see the bureau had re­sponded to con­cerns.

IN­FORMED: Whit­sun­day mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney with Lo­cal Govern­ment Min­is­ter David Crisa­fulli and Queens­land Premier Camp­bell New­man in Air­lie Beach on Fri­day.

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