Premier takes aim at 'lazy' bureau over cyclone warnings

Wild weather in the Whitsundays on Friday after ex tropical cyclone Dylan.
Wild weather in the Whitsundays on Friday after ex tropical cyclone Dylan. Whitsunday Times

THE Bureau of Meteorology came under fire on Friday at Airlie Beach after the township was spared any major damage from Tropical Cyclone Dylan.

Visiting Airlie Beach on Friday, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman and Local Government Minister David Crisafulli joined Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen in expressing concerns about the timing and accuracy of information delivered to the public by the BOM.

Mr Crisafulli said the response from BOM "was woeful, lazy, incompetent and had left people vulnerable" adding that the bureau should be issuing hourly, rather than three-hourly updates.

"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 cyclones only crossed the coast a couple of times per year, with short windows of just a few hours where the bureau could reasonably be expected to issue hourly rather than three-hourly updates.

Mr Newman said he had already taken the matter up at a Commonwealth level, discussing it with federal authorities.

"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 Christensen said the frequency of cyclone warnings needed to be reviewed after some last-minute changes in direction from yesterday's storm.

"After listening to residents who were caught by surprise, a review of the monitoring and warning process is in order," Mr Christensen said.

Queensland regional director for BOM, Rob Webb was surprised by criticism and said 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.

"The cyclone wasn't expected to change track from the 2am update until it hit the coast and it didn't," Mr Webb said.

"People did get adequate warnings."

Mr Webb said the BOM had been working closely with the community leading up to cyclone. He pointed out the system wasn't a cyclone until late and as such had the potential to affect many areas of the coast, not just where it was going to hit.

"The general feedback from the community has been good," Mr Webb said.

"Along with the updates we are available for updates on the radio and have radar imaging on our website for people to track."

- with Jon Ortlieb


Topics:  bureau of meteorology campbell newman cyclone dylan

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