By JOHN DOOLEY

THE Mallee will have a state-of-the-art weather radar with construction of the new weather station near Lake Cullulleraine.

It will replace the current radar at Mildura Airport since 1989 in the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather radar network.

Construction is well under way for the $5 million project with the pouring of concrete foundations for the tower.

The access road to the radar has been completed and next month the tower assembly, which is being constructed in Adelaide, will be will delivered and erected on the site.

The 22-metre tower will come in two 11-metre lengths and be hoisted into place by a large crane. A ‘radome’ which conceals the rotating radar will be located at the top of the tower.

Bureau of Meteorology project manager Darryl Aylward said other components for the radar included an equipment shelter, which is being constructed in Melbourne, and a back-up power generator.

“The radar equipment itself, is actually split between the shelter and the top of the tower and the radome which houses the radar dish,” Mr Aylward said.

“The equipment that generates the radar signal and also receives it and converts it into images, is down in the shelter – so it is a two component system essentially.

“The radar can be remotely monitored and controlled and it sends all of its data back to our head office in Melbourne, where it is processed and turned into public images for the web, plus more complex products which are used by our forecasters and also by other users of our data. The radar operates 24/7 – 365 days a year – it is constantly running.”

Mr Aylward said the site at Cullulleraine was chosen after an exhaustive search as it met the bureau’s criteria of having optimal coverage.

“It is relatively free of obstructions, trees, mountains, communication towers, buildings and is easy to access and will provide greatly improved radar coverage,” he said.

The Federal Government has provided the $5 million for the project as part of its long-term investment in the bureau’s weather radar network.

The current radar, located at Mildura Airport, is the second-oldest in the Bureau’s fleet of more than 60, having begun operation in 1989.

The new radar will cover an area taking in Mildura and surrounds, parts of northwest Victoria, southern New South Wales and the South Australian Riverland – all important agricultural areas. It will incorporate the latest technology, which means it will be able to measure not just where particles are in the sky, but also what kind of particle they are and how fast they are moving.

Mr Aylward said that the new radar would be able to detect rain drops, hail, bushfire plumes, rain intensity, and wind velocity providing improved real-time weather services.

“We will obtain a cleaner, higher quality image and another important feature is that it has state-of-the-art technology called dualpol, which is capable of detecting particle size enabling the radar to detect hail and how large the stones are,” he said.

The new radar will provide a more superior view of the horizon and will also assist with flood and severe weather warnings, emergency services management and general weather forecasting which will be of benefit to the agriculture sector.

The bureau hopes to have the new radar operational in the first half of 2021.