Page 566
Previous/Next Page
Federation and MeteorologyBureau of Meteorology
Table of Contents

Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology


Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1929–1946 by Allan Cornish

History of Major Meteorological Installation in Australia from 1945 to 1981 by Reg Stout

Four Years in the RAAF Meteorological Service by Keith Swan
Enlistment in the RAAF, July 1941
Meteorological Observer Training, January-April 1942
Meteorological Observer, May-December 1942
Learning to Forecast, January-July 1943
Forecasting in Victoria, July-October 1943
Tropical Forecasting in New Guinea, October 1943-February 1945
Temperate East Coast Forecasting, February 1945-January 1946
Evaluating the Service

The Bureau of Meteorology in Papua New Guinea in the 1950s by Col Glendinning


Contact us

Forecasting in Victoria, July-October 1943

My first posting as a forecaster was to the weather room at the Melbourne Bureau, an interesting but rather frustrating experience. Most of the frustrations lay in the traditional tasks we kept on performing, though the information we meticulously recorded never reached the public arena because in those days meteorological information was not published in newspapers lest it be transmitted to our enemies. Of course the observations had to be plotted and the isobaric maps drawn, but it seemed to new boys like myself some of the tasks could be abandoned during wartime in the interests of time and paper. As I remember it, too, the supervising meteorologist, though an efficient forecaster, used his eraser sometimes on my isobaric charts to remove fronts, not really believing in frontal analysis.

From the weather room I was posted to Essendon Airport, in those days an extremely busy station for both service and commercial aircraft movements. This was a great challenge in days when commercial aircraft, in particular, had to achieve a rather delicate balance between weight of fuel and weight of passengers and freight. They would pay particular attention to our forecast of upper winds, choosing the level most favourable for the flight in those terms. They would then determine with the operations officers their estimated times of arrival (ETA) at their destinations, and we forecasters would anxiously await radio information which would show how accurate our forecast of the upper winds had been. One evening, I believe in September 1943, I was mortified to find that an ANA aircraft flying from Essendon to Parafield near Adelaide arrived 19 minutes after his ETA. The next day a senior captain of the airline visited me to discuss my forecast, and I expected some remonstrance. To my surprise he congratulated me on the general accuracy of my forecast of the severity of a front the aircraft would encounter somewhere before crossing the border into South Australia. When I admitted my chagrin that he had been unable to achieve his ETA, he assured me that the most important thing that night was to know the critical conditions he would face. He then asked me to detail how I had made that successful forecast, and I was able to expound some of the theory and practice Doug Forder had imparted to us, and to say how valuable was the daily research information, called AMFA (Air-mass and Frontal Analysis), sent to us in code by the Weather Bureau.

People in Bright Sparcs - Forder, Douglas Highmoor (Doug); Swan, Keith

Previous Page Bureau of Meteorology Next Page

Cornish, A., Stout, R., Swan, K and Glendinning, C. 1996 'Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology', Metarch Papers, No. 8 February 1996, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher