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3.2 Private forecasting services

Australia has a number of private forecasters including:

3.2.1 Agricultural Weather Services

Agricultural Weather Services (A Division of WNI WeatherNews Pty Ltd)
6/651 Canterbury Rd (or P.O. Box 35), Surrey Hills, Vic. 3127

Mr Rob Cowle (Manager): Ph: (03) 9899 3140; Fax: (03) 9899 3141; rob@wni.co.jp

Mr Hong Wang (Meteorologist/Climatologist): Ph: (03) 9899 3140; Fax: (03) 9899 3141; rob@wni.com.au

Agricultural Weather Services (AWS) has been preparing seasonal weather outlooks since 1984. Initially the information was prepared for the offshore petroleum industry and for the broad-acre farming areas of Western Australia, but has since been expanded to cover the whole of Australia and adjacent waters. Services are offered to clients involved in the agricultural, pastoral, mining, construction and leisure industries in all parts of Australia.

AWS's services offered by subscription include:

  • Seasonal outlooks for the following 12 months with monthly rainfall range - issued quarterly in February, May, August and November.
  • Indications of the probability of normal, below or above normal rainfall for the next three months, issued each month.
  • Lists of anticipated rain-dates for the next two months.
  • Short-term forecasts by telephone for particular farming operations are available.
  • Outlooks for the Tropical Cyclone season of tropical cyclone and wet season activity and distribution - issued annually in October.
  • Monitoring during the tropical cyclone season.
  • Forecasts relating to individual tropical cyclones.

In the preparation of the outlooks of both seasonal rainfall and tropical activity AWS uses statistical analogue techniques supported by consideration of current dynamic features of the atmosphere/ocean system. The techniques are applications derived from the work of many published authors and internal research by AWS. The correlations of the SOI, Tahiti and Darwin atmospheric pressure with those of previous years are of fundamental consideration as are the sea surface temperature distributions over the Southern Hemisphere in particular. Selected years are ranked according to their corresponding values and trends. The distributions and trends of the relevant parameters in the analogue years are used as "first guess" weighted predictors of their distributions in the forthcoming seasons. These outputs are modified accordingly to incorporate the current atmospheric dynamics such the frequency and intensity of tropical cloud bands, southern cold fronts and the long wave pattern in the mid-troposphere.

As well as supplying the information to subscribers by post, fax and electronically, AWS operates for general use an Infofax sevice covering a wide range of forecast and data products. Telephone discussions with the duty forecaster on the shorter term weather trends are available on 1902 210 221. AWS has a website which may be accessed at http://weather.foxtel.com.au/

3.2.2 Heavenly Green

Mr David Florian, Ph: (03) 9716 2458; Fax: (03) 9718 1577

This service is based on the assumptions that the sun's movements influence temperatures on Earth, and that Mercury controls wind patterns. The incidence of fog, rain, snow and hail is attributed to the moon, which also influences temperature.

3.2.3 Holton Weather Forecasting Pty Ltd

Mr Ian Holton, PO Box 728, Nairne SA 5252; Ph: (08) 8388 6700; Fax: (08) 8388 6788; holton7@senet.com.au

Holton Weather Forecasting provides weather services for crop growers, graziers, horticulturalists, irrigators and the general agricultural industry in the south-east Australian agricultural area, including South Australia, Victoria (except Gippsland), southern and central New South Wales, and northern Tasmania.

Holton long-range weather forecasts have been scientifically proven over an independent 15 year period to forecast rainfall for the growing season with a correlation of 0.7 to 0.9 (on a scale of 0 to 1) over almost all the cropping regions of southeastern Australia (Holton 1998). Shorter range 10-day weather forecasts have proven to be of high value for farming decisions. In 1997, they predicted the significant August, September and October rains approximately one week before each event. In 1998 the 10-day forecasts have again performed at a high accuracy, predicting the two "season-break" rainfalls approximately ten days before each one occurred. Based on past experience, the 10-day forecasts could be expected to continue to perform around the 80 per cent accuracy level in the future.

Holton weather forecasts are based on upper level wind patterns, surface pressure observations, and computer rainfall models, all of which use input data from the northern and western areas of Australia and from the Indian Ocean.

The Holton Weather Package comprises (1) long-range growing season rainfall forecasts, (2) weekly 10 day weather forecasts, and, (3) telephone access. This package is designed to give total weather support to your farm or horticultural business. The long-range rainfall forecast for the coming growing season is first issued in early November, the year prior to the growing season, to enable farmers to make long-term decisions well in advance. It is then updated in early March, April, May, June, etc through to December to help you with agricultural decisions throughout the growing season. The 10-day weather forecasts are faxed, e-mailed or posted to clients each Friday from March to December, enabling them to plan their farm activities for the following week The telephone service is available on most week days during specified hours.

References

1. Holton, I. (1996). Seasonal and yearly prediction of rainfall and crop yields in Australia. Proceedings of the Second Australian Conference on Agricultural Meteorology, 1-4 October 1996, The University of Queensland, pp. 127-129.

2. Holton, I. (in press). Prediction of growing season rainfall and crop yields in southern Australia. Australian Meteorology Magazine (in press).

3. Holton, I. and Egan, J.P. (1997). Developing better forecasts for seasonal rainfall and crop yields in southern Australia. In Proceedings of Farming Systems Developments 1997 Workshop, Adelaide, March 1997, pp. 189-191.

3.2.4 Lamond Weather Services

Mr M.H. (Mal) Lamond, Principal, Lamond Weather Services, 6/117 Broadway, Nedlands W.A. 6009. Ph: (08) 9386 2645; Fax: (08) 9386 2646; lamond@iinet.net.au

Austweather Pty Ltd was the predecessor of Lamond Weather, and was the first (1983) private weather service in Australia to offer seasonal outlooks based on ENSO concepts. In 1992 Austweather became Lamond Weather Services and continues to provide seasonal, year-long and short-term forecasts to clients throughout Australia and south-east Asia.

Lamond Weather provides seasonal and year long outlooks with lead times of 15 months. Assessment of these outlooks has shown significant scientific skill (Smith 1994). It also provides special climatological information for individual farmers, pastoralists, horticulturalists and other primary producers, as well as clients in mining and other industries. Almost a third of clients are in each of Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, with a few in Queensland and New South Wales.

At around September/October a comprehensive outlook is produced for the following year. For each of the Bureau of Meteorology Rainfall Districts, forecasts are provided for the ensuing four quarters, the timing of the autumn break, growing season rainfall and annual rainfall. This outlook is accompanied by a description of the basis of the forecast, and the most appropriate analogue year. There are monthly updates to this forecast, keeping the end-date constant.

The forecasts are based on an assessment of global and Southern Hemisphere circulations and ocean anomalies. Contact is maintained with national and overseas meteorological authorities which make routine assessments of changes in global weather developments, including the Southern Oscillation and El Niņo events, and the periodic shifts in the blocking patterns that affect the motion of long atmospheric wave patterns around the southern hemisphere. Recent developments include extension of the service to forecasting the value of the Southern Oscillation Index over the next 3 to 4 months.

Smith, I. (1994). Assessments of categorical rainfall predictions. Australian Meteorology Magazine 43, 143-151.

3.2.5 Leon Morandy

Mr Leon Morandy, 53 Kinsellas Road, Mango Hill Qld 4509; Ph: (07) 3203 1856; Fax: (07) 3203 1856

Annual forecasts for Queensland and northern New South Wales are distributed late in the year to farmers, gardeners and other clients. Weekly updates are also provided to clients, and to the media. These forecasts are based on predicted tidal heights.

3.2.6 WeatherWatch (Aust.) Rural Services

Mr Don White, WeatherWatch (Aust), PO Box 37, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086; Ph: (02) 9451 7102; Fax: (02) 9975 1608; Mobile: 0417 248 705; donwhite@ozemail.com.au

1. The WeatherWatch Subscription Service has been developed to meet the specific requirements of primary producers who could gain commercially from short, medium or long term weather outlooks and assessments. These are geared especially to their individual needs, and specifically referring to their region of interest and to the meteorological variables that are important to their particular operation. A feature of the service is the emphasis on individual contact between the clients and the forecasters, which provides the flexibility of satisfying weather queries on the spot, when variations in temperature, rainfall, wind etc could be of critical economic importance to their operations. By arrangement, a special watch can be kept of developments that could cause problems to clients, so that they can be advised as early as possible of sudden or unexpected changes.

The main feature of the service is the provision of monthly and seasonal assessments sent to clients around the 2nd week of each month. They include analysis of the likely weather developments in the coming 6 weeks, mindful of the clients' special needs, as well as a broader assessment of the way the following 2 to 9 months are shaping up. Probability forecasts allow clients to make a final judgement.

The WeatherWatch Subscription Service is joined for a period of 12 months. In addition, clients automatically become members of the WeatherWatch Verbal Service and can receive a short term (up to 5 days) outlook for their area at any time they require. They can also seek a more detailed discussion with the Service's duty forecasters about the way the weather is shaping up in their region and the signs to look out for. Joint Membership is available so that up to 3 neighbours can join the one service, thereby sharing the cost. All will receive full benefits of membership and their own monthly reports. The WeatherWatch Subscription Service (Rural) is also available to larger groups. Any number of individuals can join this service if they are in a meteorologically uniform area, subject to certain conditions:

2. The WeatherWatch Verbal Service has been developed to meet the specific requirements of primary producers who require occasional weather information for specific purposes at various times throughout the year. This requirement can often be satisfied by a discussion with a forecaster on the way the weather is shaping up and by an opportunity to ask specific questions related to the clients' individual requirements.

The WeatherWatch Verbal Service is joined for an annual fee after which a client will be sent a membership number and information on how to use the service. This service provides:

1. short term forecasts for a client's area - up to 4-5 days ahead, including probability assessments;

2. assessments on how the weather patterns are shaping up;

3. general services.

WeatherWatch (Aust.) also offers an extensive range of short and long term weather forecasts and assessments, as well as information services.

3.2.7 Worldweather Enterprises

Mr Haydon Walker, Worldweather Enterprises, Crohamhurst Observatory, P.O. Box 110, Roma Street, Brisbane, Qld 4003. Ph: (07) 3895 8060; Fax: (07) 3891 7414; Mobile: 017 846 890 haydon.walker@ozemail.com.au

The present system of forecasting is based on the major planetary revolutions around the sun and these range from 11 to 165 years in length. The planetary cycles are only utilised when the major planets are in close proximity to the 18th hour R.A. (Right Ascension) or 2701 heliocentric longitude.

Assuming one were utilising a planetary cycle of 84 years in length, it would be imperative that the sunspot activity of 84 years ago would be the same as at the present time. This rarely occurs, so one must modify or intensify the amount of rainfall in any particular month according to whether the sunspot activity is above or below that of the previous cyclical period.

The late Indigo Jones and Lennox Walker considered that the positions of the planets in relation to the sun caused a waxing or waning of the sunspot cycle. Normally when any of the major planets are in the vicinity of the 18th hour R.A., Australia experiences dry or drought years. In years of high sunspot activity Australia experiences wet or flood years. Conversely, in years of low sunspot activity Australia experiences dry or drought years.

Until a means for forecasting sunspot activity is devised, Mr Walker believes that we must continue to utilise the planetary theory as a guide to sunspot activity.

Detailed yearly forecasts may be prepared for business firms for the various States and these reports would be broken into months, giving the anticipated rainfall in the various Divisions and Metropolitan area, whether light, moderate or heavy and above or below normal. The anticipated rainfall distribution dates as based on the metropolitan areas are also included.

Monthly forecasts may be prepared for the various States and forwarded on about the 25th of each month. These reports would give the anticipated rainfall in the various Divisions and Metropolitan area together with the anticipated rainfall distribution dates and an extensive line of temperature extremes as based on the Metropolitan area.

Yearly forecasts may be prepared for a particular area and these reports would give the anticipated rainfall each month, whether light, moderate or heavy and above or below normal. Special reports and exclusive service forecasts may be prepared to suit specific requirements.

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