Weather bureau calls for community weather observers


Cold 'n Rusty
Ski Pass
Jul 24, 2006
Yuin Country
A few of the folk on these pages may be interested in this.

Quoting .....

The Bureau of Meteorology is creating an online weather community where people share information and photos about the weather.

Called the Weather Observations Website (WOW), the free online service lets the public view and contribute historic, real-time or automated weather observations.

BOM forecaster Rick Threlfall said Queensland was a big state and despite many official observation stations there were many holes.

"There are still parts of the state where we are not getting a lot of observations from, obviously we can automate some things but we are still asking people to send in things like photographs, noting something unusual, like a damage report after a storm has gone through," he said.

"That can help us verify our warnings or just give us information on how strong the wind has been."

Mr Threlfall said it was not hard to register as an observer.

He said WOW allowed the public to provide as little or as much information as they wanted.

"You just say where you are, how often you want to give the observations, you can just send in photos if you want, " he said.

"If you have an automated weather station, you can pick those up pretty cheaply now days, you can connect that straight up to your web through your wifi and it sends the information directly into the website, you can do that every 10 minutes if you want."

He said observers could get a rating according to the level of sophistication and location of their equipment.

"My weather station records all the basics; temperature, humidity, daily rainfall, wind speed and direction," he said.

"I think mine was about $150 and connects through the wifi direct to the WOW website sending the observations through automatically."

He said his system would get a 'one star' rating but more sophisticated operations, depending on the equipment, the range of observations and location, could be allocated a rating of up to five stars.

Mr Threfall said the information could be extremely useful as it provided the opportunity for community engagement as well as education and a public conversation.


One of Us
Jun 2, 2009
about time, since the BOM budget reductions, their predicting reliability has dropped significantly, especially when it comes to aviation weather, almost to the point some pilots dont use it at all, just look at the synoptic and make your own obs.


A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe
Ski Pass
Jul 13, 1998
Middle Oz
My father was a commercial pilot in the 60s through to 71 flying out of Bankstown to all parts of NSW and QLD mostly. From 71 on wards he was Manager & CFI of Waikerie Gliding Club. Both jobs which involved very much a close attention to weather and forecasting on a day to day basis pretty much every day he went to work. In his holidays he flew in gliding competitions which again demanded close attention to weather. So he was pretty well up with the weather data gathering and forecasting over a very long period of time.

His observation was that in the 60s every reasonable landing strip around Australia had a weather observation post with a collection of instruments, and you can still see the physical remains and some operational of these. Attending to the OP was a BOM weather person or 2 depending on the remoteness and importance of the location. So the WP collected the data from the OP and sent it into BOM. They also did a local forecast and this was their most useful role because many of these folks were in the same locations for many years and learnt the local micro climates and effects. So these were always his 1st point of contact for the best weather forecast when flight planning and so on. He held these folks typically in very high esteem and felt it was a huge loss to forecasting when the OPs were automated, the WPs got rid off and all the forecasting came from the big and bigger computers in Melbourne or Canberra.

My understanding is not all the OPs were kept and many were dumped off the BOMs operational list, so the number of OPs actually went down. At the time the mail was they were cutting costs where ever they could to save up for their super computers.

He also made the comment that Australia was so large complete weather systems could form, activate and die and no one in BOM would know, particularly after the demise of the WPs. This changed a little with the advent of sat data, but he still maintained until late in the 90s this was the case despite sat data.

At one point he figured we had about the same number of weather OPs in all of Australia as there was in England and Scotland which is roughly a little larger than Victoria. Which is pretty laughable when you think about it.

But hey, no one outside of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane needs a accurate forecast as they are the only the remaining 10% of the population. So BOM are doing all good.


Hard Yards
Ski Pass
Jun 21, 2012
Its quite easy to use, I've submitted a few manual reports to it. Haven't used the manual side for a while, but have got my personal weather station feeding into it now.
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