THE upgrade of WA's coastal radar network is continuing, with work on the Geraldton facility starting this week.
The upgrade is part of a $4.6 million investment by the State government to upgrade the Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM's) radar facilities at Geraldton and Albany to Doppler capability.
When combined with the State-funded installations at Newdegate, South Doodlakine and Watheroo and the BoM's facilities at Serpentine, Kalgoorlie and a planned upgrade at Esperance, WA's agricultural region will have almost complete Doppler radar coverage.
The upgraded facilities will provide agribusinesses and emergency services with more reliable, enhanced data and information, to help make crucial farm management and response decisions.
Doppler radar provides 24 hour, high quality, real-time wind and rainfall information over a 150 kilometre radius, updated every six minutes.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is co-ordinating the upgrades, which research officer Ian Foster said had gone smoothly.
"The Albany infrastructure installation is nearly complete and is expected to return to full service in mid-May," Mr Foster said.
"The Geraldton upgrade will be completed as quickly as possible but is still expected to take about 12 weeks, coming back online mid-June."
In the meantime, a range of alternative sources of timely wind and rainfall information is available via the BoM and DPIRD websites.
Dr Foster said real-time wind and rainfall data would still be available via DPIRD's online weather pages, as well as the BoM's MetEye, Satellite View and Observations online webpages.
"This includes rainfall since 9am, wind speed and direction and a wealth of other information from DPIRD's network of 175 automated weather stations, and BoM's network of 85 sites," he said.
"Some residents on the edge of affected areas may also be able to use radar images from DPIRD's Newdegate, Watheroo and South Doodlakine Doppler radars, as well as BoM Doppler radars at Serpentine and Kalgoorlie."
The Albany and Geraldton upgrades marked the introduction of a new generation of Doppler radar technology, the first of its kind to be installed in Australia.
"The Dual-Polarimetry technology provides opportunities to extend the range of high quality observations from a 120 kilometre radius up to 150km over a 24 hour period," Dr Foster said.
"This will extend the service to more regional residents and agribusinesses over a broader area, providing consistent coverage around the clock."
Alternative sources of real-time wind and rainfall information can be found at agric.wa.gov.au/n/7526 or bom.gov.au/wa