How to Read the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)
Learning how to read the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) effectively can help you prepare for severe storms and other weather events and is a great tool if travelling to an unfamiliar area. Look at these 4 pages on BoM regularly:
Rain Radar (Home Page)
Looking at your local weather radar is a great way to gauge how much rainfall is coming your way, or if it’s turning into a supercell with chances of hail. For example, we use the Gympie radar (Figure 1) on 64km radius (found above the map) to see what is very close by. Using the colour legend (below the map) we can judge how severe the weather is. If the patches on the map are white to blue you can expect light rain, if it’s green to yellow it will be moderate, if orange to red it will be heavy. If there is a very dark centre this will generally mean there is a supercell with the possibility of hail. To see a larger area and gauge whether there is rain coming in an hour or few hours you can range out to 128km, 256km, and 512km, which is a great to check if travelling. The radar is also fantastic as it will give you an idea as to what direction the system is moving, bearing in mind that this often changes. Quite often our area in Maroochydore will look like it’s about to get a whopper storm only for it to move around us last minute, but it keeps us prepared!
Weather Warnings (Home Page – Yellow Header)
Sometimes you know there is some strange weather happening around but you may not be sure if it’s safe to travel, or even just go out on the boat. Checking your State’s current weather warnings (Figure 2) is a good place to see if there is anything you should be alert to. This could range from tropical cyclones, fire warnings, heavy winds, heavy seas, flooding, and other phenomena. There are also auto-alert systems that you can subscribe to who will send you a notification if there is a warning sent out for your area. Higgins Storm Chasing is a great service and offers a second source other than BOM.
MetEye (Home Page – MetEye)
Personally, we love, love, love this feature at Planet Repairs as it gives you a 7 day forecast on everything imaginable in 3-hourly increments. Want to know if there is a possibility of rain in 2days’ time at 4pm? No problems! Want to plan a snow trip but want to check if there may be heavy fall? Done! Using the drop down boxes on the left hand side of the page (Figure 3) you can choose what weather forecast you need, above the map you can choose when you want your forecast, and the Legend on the right hand side will show how to interpret the map’s forecast. MetEye is a bit of a Legend! Of course, as with any other weather forecast, it is subject to change as it is only a possibility and will update itself as Mother Nature goes about her way. Nothing is ever set in stone, so keep an eye on the movements.
Weather Maps – 4 day Forecast (Home Page – Weather Maps – Australian Region – Forecast map for next 4 days)
This one is a little bit more advanced and we mostly use it to see if we are looking at the possibility of a hail storm in the next few days. By looking at the map (Figure 4) you can see there are quite a few black lines getting in the way and you may be wondering what on earth are these?! Basically we look to see if there is a Trough (the dashes) with a Cold Front (unbroken black line with the spikes) right behind it, and if it’s heading towards a High (marked by the letter H). This is the phenomena that potentially causes hail, which will we get into in more detail next blog.
This information may seem overwhelming and you may just want to sit on BoM forever in fear of the weather, trying to pinpoint what it’s going to do but life is for the living! The best thing you can do is have knowledge behind you – know how to interpret BoM, prepare for the storm season (see our last blog), and stay informed! It also doesn’t hurt to have multiple sources of information as they can differ, from your local weather man to BoM to Higgins Storm Chasing. This way you are doing everything in your power to keep you, your family, and furry friends safe!