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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Weather station safety fears [06jan06]

Weather station safety fears

A BRUNY Island weather observer is concerned for the safety of mariners and pilots in Tasmania's southwest.

Andy Gregory said without vital cloud cover and sea swell observations provided by the Maatsuyker Island observation post, fishermen and aviators may be in danger or lose money.

The two Maatsuyker weather observers were evacuated by helicopter on December 28 after one suffered medical problems that required hospitalisation.

Since then, the island's weather station has been unmanned with information coming from an automated system that measures wind, temperature, dew point and rainfall.

Mr Gregory said observers were vital and leaving Maatsuyker vacant was irresponsible.









"This time of year is a peak of activity around Maatsuyker," he said. "Lots of boats go around Port Davey this time of year, fishing boats work the area, abalone divers need to know how big the swell is, general aviation need to know about visual data, cloud cover, cloud height."

The lighthouse and weather observation station on Maatsuyker Island is the responsibility of the Parks and Wildlife Service and acting general manager Stuart Lennox said it would most likely remain unstaffed until early next month.

Caretakers usually worked stints of three to six months on the island and the next shift starts in early February.

"We're assessing our options and trying to find the most logical and effective way to proceed," Mr Lennox said.

Weather bureau acting regional director Neil Adams said the lack of observational information would not be dangerous or affect operators of boats and aircraft.

"The automatic weather station is still running, we have a wave-rider buoy on the West Coast to provide swell information and Cape Bruny provides sea state and swell information," Dr Adams said.

Dazeley: Page 15

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