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Table of Contents

Memories of the Bureau, 1946 to 1962





Chapter 1: The Warren Years, 1946 to 1950

Chapter 2: International Meteorology

Chapter 3: The Timcke Years, 1950 to 1955

Chapter 4: A Year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chapter 5: The Dwyer Years, 1955 to 1962
Leonard Joseph Dwyer—A Complex Character
Reorganising the Bureau
Public Weather Services
Forecasts for the General Public
Importance of Radio Stations
The Advent of Television
Automatic Telephone Forecast Service
Wording and Verification of Forecasts
Services for Aviation
Atomic Weapons Tests
Atomic Weapons Tests—Mosaic G1 and G2
Atomic Weapons Tests—Buffalo 1, 2, 3 and 4
Atomic Weapons Tests—Operations Antler, 2 and 3
Atomic Weapons Tests—Minor Trials
Instruments and Observations
Radar/Radio Winds and Radar Weather Watch
Automatic Weather Stations
Meteorological Satellites
Tropical Cyclones
Bureau Conference on Tropical Cyclones
International Symposium on Tropical Cyclones, Brisbane
Design of Water Storages, Etc
Flood Forecasting
Cloud Seeding
Reduction of Evaporation
Rain Seminar
Cloud Physics
Fire Weather
Research and Special Investigations
International Activities
The International Geophysical Year
The Antarctic and Southern Ocean
International Symposium on Antarctic Meteorology
International Antarctic Analysis Centre
ADP, EDP and Computers
Management Conference
Services Conference
CSIRO and the Universities
Achievements of the Dwyer Years

Chapter 6: A Springboard for the Future

Appendix 1: References

Appendix 2: Reports, Papers, Manuscripts

Appendix 3: Milestones

Appendix 4: Acknowledgements

Appendix 5: Summary by H. N. Warren of the Operation of the Meteorological Section of Allied Air Headquarters, Brisbane, 1942–45



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From the early days of the colonial weather services a need to communicate up-to-date forecasts had been recognised and flags had been flown from poles on observatory and other buildings to display forecasts and warnings. This practice continued until the late 1920s–early 1930s when radio stations began broadcasting weather forecasts.

In 1957 the Mutual Life and Citizens (MLC) insurance company showed interest in installing beacons on top of their tall city buildings to indicate the Bureau's weather forecasts. The first was switched on in North Sydney on 31 December 1957. The beacon indicated the forecast using incandescent lamps by day and fluorescent tubes by night, when it was visible for many miles.

The lights were aligned vertically in two groups. In the upper group, flashing ascending lights indicated warmer temperatures, descending flashes cooler temperatures and steady lights no temperature change. In the lower group, slow white pulses indicated rain clearing, slow red pulses rain developing, steady white fine, steady red rain, fast white pulses strong winds and fast red pulses strong winds and rain.

In those days transistor radios were not in common use (especially in cars) and the beacons were popular with commuters travelling to and from work.

Two beacons were installed on high buildings in Melbourne in 1958, the first on the MLC building in April and the second on the Carlton and United Brewery in May.

The beacons were operated by a remote control in the Bureau's Divisional Office and were set at 6 am to indicate the forecast to 6 pm, at noon for the afternoon and evening, at 4.30 pm for the period ending at dawn next day and at 10 pm for from dawn to noon next day. Adjustments were made at other times when forecast amendments were required.

A beacon was installed on the MLC building in Adelaide in June 1958 and, as was the case in Sydney and Melbourne, the companies displaying beacons produced a small pocket card explaining the system of signals indicating the forecast weather. The MLC insurance company installed a similar beacon on its building in Brisbane in July of that year. On a visit to Brisbane in August 1997 I saw a similar beacon still burning brightly atop a city building. The Coca-Cola company erected a more complicated neon advertising sign in Swanston Street, Melbourne, somewhat later which displayed forecast information briefly in words.

People in Bright Sparcs - Dwyer, Leonard Joseph

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Gibbs, W. J. 1999 'A Very Special Family: Memories of the Bureau of Meteorology 1946 to 1962', Metarch Papers, No. 13 May 1999, Bureau of Meteorology

© Online Edition Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and Bureau of Meteorology 2001
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