You can’t see much through the morning fog, but at least Canberrans might now be able to see it coming, thanks to a new tool from the Bureau of Meteorology.
The Bureau unveiled MetEye, its newest online tool on Wednesday, which brings together a number of forecasting features into a single tool.
Canberra forecaster Sean Carson said MetEye provided most of the services he used as a forecaster, and would allow for members of the public to work up their own forecasts based on what weather affected them most.
“Basically, all the tools I look at are now out there for the public as well, so you can pretty much become your own budding forecaster,” he said.
“It’s one thing to read something in a forecast or hear the text, but to see it in pictures - they say a picture is worth a thousand words.”
One of the new features is a fog forecaster, which Mr Carson said would be particularly useful for Canberrans making travel plans.
He said Canberrans using the tool should look for how widespread the fog is predicted to be, and how long it is forecast to last, to get an idea of how significant and thick the fog might be.
“If it’s predicting fog from early hours of the evening into late morning, then it’s more likely to be widespread and more significant fog for aviation. If it’s just saying the chance of fog is there for a couple of hours around sunrise – which it will probably do for most clear nights in winter – then there might be some fog around, but the chances of it being disruptive to air travel are much less likely,” he said.
“It gives you a snapshot of what’s happening around the region as well. So if you start to see other places going into fog without having to go around and read individual forecasts…it might be a good tip-off that you might want to look at other means of transport.”
He said the tool was predicting fog over the next three days for Canberra – a forecast he agreed with due to the cold nights and residual moisture from rain early in the week.
Mr Carson said allowing users to choose which weather feature they wanted displayed on their map would also be a huge boost, allowing everyone from primary producers to tourism operators to keep an eye on specific weather phenomena, including frost, snow, wind, and even ocean swell.
Environment Minister Tony Burke said the new tool was part of a $30 million upgrade of weather services around the country, and would provide more clear and accurate forecasts for both the general community and emergency services.
“This new resource brings together the most popular elements of the Bureau’s website into one convenient platform, providing a better way for the public to explore the local weather,” he said.
MetEye includes real-time river observations, upgraded every six to nine minutes, with the option to overlay satellite and radar imagery, to assist with flood forecasting. It will also display significant weather forecasts up to seven days in advance, including the likelihood of thunderstorms, snow, rain, fog and frost, which can be ‘played’ in an animation.
The feature had been available via a registration system since March, but on Wednesday the Bureau opened the way for public access. The full suite of MetEye services is now available in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia.