Flooding plains, bursting rivers, human suffering

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  • Published 20120306
  • ISBN: 9781921922008
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN A SKYSCRAPER on Ann Street, Brisbane, behind the sandstone City Hall clock tower, and a stone’s throw from a nub of granite at North Quay commemorating the founding of the capital by Surveyor-General John Oxley (who came ‘in search of water’), are the offices of the Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland division. The division has under its umbrella the Brisbane Regional Forecast Centre, the Queensland Flood Warning Centre and the Queensland Tropical Cyclone Warning Centre. In all, it keeps busy about 150 staff.

Spreading out from that meteorological epicentre in Ann Street is a vast interconnected web of radars, automatic weather stations, river height stations, field observers, storm spotters and satellites that keep a constant eye on weather movements across the state. Paramount on that massive grid – on alert for changes in sea temperatures, wind movements, precipitation, flash floods – are fourteen Weather Watch radars. And chief among those is the Doppler radar at Mount Stapylton, about 40 kilometres south of the city, near Beenleigh. The mountain was named after the surveyor Granville Stapylton, murdered by local Aborigines in 1840. The Doppler now perches atop it, not unlike a giant white teed golf ball surrounded by bush.

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