||Federation and Meteorology
Table of Contents
George Grant Bond
Register of Marks
Chapter 6 (continued)
It is obvious that in these early days, with so little assistance, the issuing of forecasts was fraught with many difficulties and uncertainties but even then there was increasing demand for longer-range forecasts, and various theories were being advanced from different parts of the world, and imaginations were fired as they gave hope of predictable weather patterns of varying cycles. Encouraging as these ideas and experiments might have been, realisation, if any, was far away, and the Commonwealth Weather Bureau had to rely on the methods of plotting the weather with the use of instruments available and data received. George Bond was also a sky gaze and could often be seen studying the clouds, watching their form and movement, and trying to read the signs of change. He was devoted to his work, and felt an obligation to the public to be as accurate as he possibly could. Wrong forecasts obviously upset him, and he often apologised publicly, as must have been the case when this letter was published in the Brisbane Daily Mail in September 1910: 'It is with the greatest pleasure in life that we withdraw any unkind things we may heretofore unwittingly have said about our Weather Bureau in view of its handsome and candid admission of how it was completely taken by surprise by the recent remarkable change in weather conditions. It didn't even shelter behind the Comet'. (Halley's Comet, visible about this time, was thought by many to affect weather patterns.)
In 1910 the Weather Bureau was moved from City Chambers to two rooms in a basement off Post Office Lane. The scattered equipment and confined space provided less than ideal conditions for the responsible and demanding task of preparing daily forecasts for Queensland.
Communication in the pre-Great War years was a considerable handicap, especially when weather conditions were bad and areas were completely isolated. This was never felt more than in the worrying months of the cyclone season, which was at its peak from December to April. On March 16th 1911, a fierce cyclone levelled Port Douglas and the surrounding area. Two people were killed and hundreds left homeless, and there was an outcry from the people of Cairns that the Meteorological Department had not given adequate warning of the severe force of the cyclone. The passenger ship Yongala on a voyage from Cairns to Townsville, was a victim of the gale, with the loss of over fifty passengers and crew. There had previously been agitation for passenger ships to be equipped with a wireless installation so that early weather warnings could be sent to them. Now the pleas were renewed. Overseas, wireless was being used to great advantage in ships at sea. The journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan, reported the use of wireless telegraphy as early as 1906. By 1910 the Japanese Weather Service was receiving thrice-daily reports from ships within range of wireless communication. A report from Hamburg in Germany, just over a month after the Yongala disaster, stated that ships in the North Sea and the Baltic were issued with bulletinsthree times for storm warnings and again at 1pm and 3pm, and then slowly for the benefit of inexperienced operators on small ships.
People in Bright Sparcs - Bond, George Grant
© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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