List of Australia's most popular weather forecasters

Chris McLennan
By Chris McLennan
May 8 2022 - 9:30pm
FAVOURITE TOPIC: Just as weather is the most popular conversation opener, most people - on the land or not - are rusted onto their preferred way of receiving that information.

Farmers have their favourite dog, their well worn hat and they all have a preferred weather website.

Predicting the weather will forever be one of the most important skills in agriculture and never before have farmers had such a choice.

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Some advice is paid for, some is free but all the weather gurus share the same failing, they are not accurate all the time.

Today we take a look at some of the most popular weather websites as picked by you.

The top online site and the app used by most is also the government's most popular free offering, the Bureau of Meteorology.

BOM's super computers provide most of the data which the other sites piggy-back from under licence.

The Mildura radar installation - BOM fields many requests to expand its radar network even further. Picture: BOM.

The giant of all weather services is the taxpayer-funded Bureau of Meteorology - by far the Federal government's most popular website.

In the 2020-21 financial year, the bureau's website was accessed a staggering 721 million times.

Most of the other commercial weather websites utilise the bureau's data collection and delivery, such as real-time information on weather conditions, forecasts and such add-ons as the ever popular radar network.

"For the agricultural sector, forecasts and live weather information assist farmers to make day-to-day tactical decisions and seasonal forecasts and climate projections inform longer-term planning," a spokesman said.

A free service, the bureau spokesman said it is currently developing an updated version of its already super-successful website.

Popular and free international weather website operated by Norwegian Meteorological Institute and NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation).

The information about snow depths and mountain passes might be particularly useful to its Australian audience.

There is also an English translation which might come in useful in a drop-down menu.

As the world's driest continent, Australian farmers are anxious each season about when the rains will arrive.

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It has a search function which can pinpoint even small and remote Australian locations.

It offers eight-day forecasts, down to rainfall predictions on an hourly basis with a decimal point in a simple table or a graph.

Another popular European free website which has a lot of fans especially across northern Australia.

It offers a premium service for an annual subscription and comes from the capital of the Czech Republic in Prague.

Its subscription service offers three hourly forecasts but its free broadbrush approach to approaching weather systems offers a 10-day look.

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Set up your filters on the right hand side, click play to let the animation roll.

Wunderground, or Weather Underground, is another popular commercial service, offering 10-day precise forecasts.

This one comes from the US, its information provided by the US government's National Weather Service.

Customers can access an ad-free version through a subscription.

Weather Underground is owned by The Weather Company, a pay TV channel, a subsidiary of the Allen Media Group.

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It offers a 10-day forecast with a search function for precise locations.

Much of its key content, such as news articles and maps, are US-based and key data can be switched from fahrenheit to celcius, inches to millimetres.

This site offers simple maps, which are popular for their "at a glance".

The reader can quickly see how much rain is forecast again for a 10-day forecast.

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Rain at harvest time is keenly watched for. Picture: BB Harvesting.

There are climate outlooks for temperatures and rain from the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction, through the US government.

Again its free, but very broad strokes here, not much on detail. Go here for that at the Climate Prediction Center.

The commercial offering from this media company which is in the process of being updated offers access to new stories as well as postcode specific forecasts and real-time information.

Access to this popular service from Weatherzone comes free to those with subscriptions to Australian Community Media's agricultural titles.

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Weatherzone employs its own meteorologists and uses its own computer modelling to feeds into its forecasting model.

Supporters of our sites say they enjoy the easy to follow graphic display of current conditions and the 28-day rainfall forecast.

The popularity of this government-funded service is all down to its colourful presenter Dale Grey.

Using video, newsletters, podcasts and charts the government shows how much data is has on hand itself before it goes to the broader climate analysis.

Mr Grey analyses this data down to a local level and has provided consistent reports for many years.

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From the winter rains in the south to the monsoonal-induced wet seasons in the north, Australia is a land of great weather contrasts.

Mr Grey says he attempts to summarise the climate predictions of some of the world's biggest supercomputers down to a single A4 page.

Former Yarra Valley strawberry farmer Anthony Violi has thousands of supporters particularly for his long-range predictions.

Mr Violi says he has "developed an expert understanding of Australian weather conditions, using computer modelling, as well as exhaustive research into 130 years of historical data".

His site offers rain predictions up to nine months out, as well as daily forecasts, for up to $55 a month.

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A point of difference from other commercial offerings is that Mr Violi offers personalised weather advice to subscribers.

A commercial offering from agricultural chemical company Nufarm.

It offers a handy guide to future weather to allow farmers to make decisions on when to spray.

A standard subscription costs $132 for a year.

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Swiss weather service which provides a "preferred country version" in its website settings to select Australia.

Again it has subscription options to access its seven month rain outlook but offers a free look at 14-day forecasts.

There are also more personalised weather products such as weathermatters with Karl Lijnders for $5.75 per week, or Nutrien's "weather wizard" Eric Snodgrass has fans as well.

Legendary long-range forecaster Inigo Jones still has supporters despite his death in 1954.

Everyone has their favourites but perhaps we should leave the last words to Stephen Waldhunter who responded to our call out on social media for "your favourite".

Mr Waldhunter suggested tongue in cheek we consult the ants, "they are the most accurate".

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This story is part of a special print and digital series. Ag Influencers is a new publication that aims to highlight the many people making an impact in agriculture across Australia. This special liftout will be inserted into all ACM Ag publications on May 26.

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Chris McLennan

Chris McLennan

National Rural Property Writer

ACM national rural property writer based in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. Career journalist. Multi award winner.

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