Mobile units gather extra cyclone data throughout city
First published 11 January 2013
Pictured are JCU’s Cyclone Testing Station Director Dr David Henderson and Townsville City Mayor Jenny Hill.
New technology will be placed in several parks throughout Townsville to record wind speeds during tropical cyclones.
The devices, known as relocatable anemometers, are used for research in the tornado regions of the United States.
Townsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill, who chairs the Local Disaster Management Group, said council was proud to partner with the Cyclone Testing Station at James Cook University in utilising the new system.
“Most of us unfortunately know the ferocity of a tropical cyclone and the vital need for optimising our preparedness and recovery times,” Cr Hill said.
“Previously we’ve had to rely on estimates of wind speeds, through numerical models, the occasional anemometer and by analysing damage to street signs.
“These relocatable anemometers are easily deployed in the 48 hours before a cyclone makes landfall to record data that can then be relayed instantly to various authorities via the 3G network and later be used in evaluating our building codes.”
JCU’s Cyclone Testing Station director David Henderson said the Surface Weather Information Relay and Logging Network (SWIRLnet) was developed and tested at the local laboratory.
“SWIRLnet will provide a great boost to our knowledge as to wind speeds,” he said.
“The existing measuring systems are sparse in tropical regions of Australia. Less than two per cent of the peak wind speeds of cyclones making landfall in Australia have crossed where there is a capability of measuring them.
“Previously we’ve had to rely on guestimates, but these transportable anemometers will store data on-board as well as transmitting information every 10 minutes during a weather event.
“They’ll be deployed to both pre-selected sites and opportunistic locations, according to where they’ll be of most use. The more pre-selected sites that we have across the North Queensland region, the more efficient our instrumentation and the more reliable our data.”
Each transportable anemometer is mounted on a 3 m tripod and is secured by a concrete anchor or ground screws.
Townsville City Council is a long-term supporter of the James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station, providing funding and in-kind support each year.
Media inquiries TCC Senior Media Officer Jacqui Donegan 0400 287 060