AUSTRALIA – The Bureau of Meteorology has plans to end local weather forecasting in most states and to monitor weather out of just two major centres.
By 2020, all local forecasting services will be moved to two centralised units based in Melbourne and Brisbane, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.
Members of the union believe that the change could put communities at risk during extreme weather events, with fears residents may not get enough advance warning about bushfires and cyclones.
More than 200 forecasters across the country were informed of the news last week, in what is the biggest shake up the bureau has experienced in 110 years.
The ABC reported that the union is ‘horrified’ by the plan, as up to 40 people could lose their jobs in Perth alone.
CPSU organiser Melanie Booth said that the forecasters are trained in predicting weather for the vast land mass that covers Western Australia.
She said that the centralised service could put WA communities at risk during extreme weather conditions, such as bushfires and cyclones.
‘They have built up their experience about that and weather patterns here for a good 10 to 15 years some of them, if not more,’ Ms Booth said.
She believes that if the units were to be centralised, the quality of services are going to be hugely reduced.
There are fears that if there is more than one major incident occurring across the country, the bigger population centres may get the attention first.
‘The other thing is the nuances of people knowing in time for evacuating and things like that — there’s fewer controls over that,’ Ms Booth said.
The bureau released a statement that said it was discussing the ‘proposed transformation’ with employees and promise to provide localised expertise to each state.
‘Claims of cost-cutting and job losses are simply untrue and there are no plans to remove the bureau’s local presence from any state or territory,’ the statement said.
‘A proposed new approach to improve services, which is being discussed in consultation with staff, customers and stakeholders, would involve general forecasting services moving to specialised hubs, allowing locally-based staff more time to provide specialist expertise to key state sectors such as emergency services, agriculture and energy.
‘A further benefit would be the creation of new teams of experts focussed on providing advice on the key natural hazards which affect life and property.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted The Bureau of Meteorology for comment.