Australia Weather News

When I first started presenting the weather on ABC TV back in 2005, Australia held the Ashes and my beloved Hawks were a bottom-four team.

The fortunes of both have waxed and waned since then, but have now come full circle!

Plenty has changed in TV production and weather forecasting over the past 15 years.

When I started at the ABC, a floor manager was the connection between the studio and the TV control room.

Hand signals were used to indicate when you were on air, how long a particular segment had left and, importantly, when to get off.

Those in the control room relied on my voice cues to move to the next graphic.

At times, if they were not paying attention, this led to me prompting: "And now to the satellite picture … the satellite loop."

Then, through gritted teeth: "…the sat … ah there we are."

Most of the time though, they were terrific.

In more recent times, the weather graphics are changed via the simple click of a button in my hand.

Presenting weather 'a great way to keep tabs' on BOM output

From a forecasting point of view, technology has continued to change rapidly.

Former ABC luminary Mike Pook was the first weather presenter in the country to use satellite images.

Those images were updated every three hours — these days they update every 10 minutes.

The computer models get better and better, with high resolution and greater accuracy.

When I began presenting, I was very conscious not to change the carefully crafted words of my Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) colleagues.

Some days they were my own words as I had written the forecast, but I was careful to stay true to the exact wording from the bureau.

Over time, I felt more comfortable trying to explain things a bit differently.

And as I moved into a management role at the bureau, I found presenting the work of my staff on TV each night was an excellent way of keeping tabs on their output!

Shift work makes for long days

Combining jobs at the BOM and the ABC has been challenging at times.

Early on as a shift worker there were some tricky logistical moves.

Ahead of the lengthy overnight BOM shift, I would rock up to the bureau about 4:30pm to get a handover and TV briefing.

I would then do the ABC TV segment and literally run back across town to the bureau to do a night shift in a suit and makeup.

All up, it was quite a long day and night — no wonder I may have come across as fatigued on ABC breakfast radio!

Moving into management roles made it easier to get to the studio, but inevitably a manager's hours are not just 9 to 5, and you can end up working a lot of extra hours.

Which brings me to where I am today. I am not as young as I used to be and need to reduce my workload and focus more on my bureau role.

It was while working shift work that I had my most amusing on-air stuff-up.

After three nights shifts in a row, it was unsurprising that my body clock was out of kilter.

I opened my 7:25pm segment with "good morning", which caused newsreader Peter Gee and the floor manager to laugh audibly.

Soldiering on, I corrected with "good afternoon" and finally got to "good evening", amidst howls of laughter in the background.

Byplay with the newsreader can always be fun but, as they always have the last word, you are on a hiding to nothing.

Guy Stayner loves his dad jokes and likes to weave them into the throw.

And Peter Gee and I had some sports banter at times.

A favourite memory was proud Geelong supporter Peter having to wear a Hawthorn tie after the 2008 grand final thanks to a little bet we had!

Memories of fire and flood

On occasions when the weather was leading the news, I found myself sitting at the newsreader's desk to talk about the conditions.

Sometimes I may have been interviewed by news crews earlier in the day.

Fire and flood memories dominate over the past 15 years.

The 2013 Dunalley bushfire is etched in my memory.

I recall pointing out to the newsroom that the weather station in Dunalley had got to 50 degrees before going off air as the fire swept through the site.

The major flooding across northern Tasmania in June 2016 was another huge story, as were the May 2018 floods around Hobart.

A non-local event stands out in my mind though. The Japanese tsunami in 2011 was unfolding on TV as we were getting ready for the local bulletin.

A journalist started asking me a few questions about tsunamis and we were talking for quite a while.

When I turned around a large group of people had gathered to listen to what I was saying while watching the horror unfold. Mother nature cannot be controlled.

Time to take the reins at dinner

The ABC has a long-held tradition of having a meteorologist present the weather.

The legendary Mike Pook did it for 17 years.

Jaci Brown followed, and it was only her move to overseas study that gave me a chance to try the role.

I am the first to acknowledge I am not a particularly polished presenter and am certainly no oil painting, but I hope I have at least brought some meteorological expertise to the weather segment.

I love talking about the weather. You get passionate about it after being in the field for over 30 years.

I am also passionate and parochial about Tasmania.

I like to think that having grown up in Launceston, I can negotiate the north-south divide that sometimes dogs our little island.

It has been a privilege to have been the weather presenter for the last 15 years and I have enjoyed every minute.

However, I will not miss having to wear a suit and tie (I now have more than 60 ties!) or having to wear makeup, although the nightly chat with the makeup team is a highlight.

I am going to miss ABC staff who have become friends.

But I am now looking forward to having some meals at home in the evening rather than reheating them.

My daughters Georgia and Emma were two and five when I started and are now all grown up.

They cannot remember a time when I was routinely home at dinner time, nor a time when I was not embarrassing them on the tele.

Then there's my wife Anne, who held the fort at home every evening, cooking dinner while looking after young kids and then running them around to activities as they got older while juggling her own career as a lawyer.

All to allow me talk about the weather for three minutes.

So, from Monday night I will be asking my family, "What should I cook for dinner tonight?".