Thursday, 30 December 2010

The weather rant: left-outs and language

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I lay in bed to-day listening to the reading of weather conditions on Radio National.  Now I realise that these are in-brief readings and if you really want to know anything you should go to the Bureau of Meteorology.  But to-day was a corker of how skewed the weather reading can be.  From memory, the reading goes something like this: Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Broome, Perth.

Showers were expected only in Broome, Darwin and Cairns.  Everything else was fine.  As I write, I googled one simple word "floods" and here is the search result at 11.27am.  The entire population of Theodore in Queensland has been evacuated.  Further north and west, a significant slice of the population of Emerald has been evacuated. On Christmas Day, a cyclone crossed the coast near Cairns. Things are not good. Queensland is awash - again. New South Wales has been.

And while I am on that list. A few comments.  OK, most Australians live on the coastal fringes of the continent. Probably so they can get capital city weather forecasts - there is only one inland town given on most radio lists, Alice Springs.

I also get mad about Cairns being on the list and not Townsville.  Townsville is larger than Darwin  and is the de facto capital of North Queensland.  In fact, the Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh is considering nominating Townsville as a second capital city for Queensland. I think Cairns gets mentioned only for the sake of southerners and tourists and the fact that, because of neglect of Townsville, there is an international airport there. There are more North Queenslanders living closer to Townsville than they are to Cairns. But Townsville does not get the prominence it deserves in weather readings on radio, and - in some, but not all, cases - on television.

I don't know whether Broome is representative of tropical Western Australia or whether another town would be more representative or relevant to higher population numbers.  Sandgropers might like to educate us on that point. 

As an expatriate Queenslander of great age and antiquity, I would like to make known my weather pleasure when Howard Ainsworth was still at the ABC in Brisbane. His dulcet tones are now heard on Brisbane's Classic FM station, 4MBS. During a Queensland Wet Season (more places to mention in the Wet than in the Dry), it was a delight to hear Howard Ainsworth give the rainfall.  Like other parts of Australia, Queensland has its share of tricky names of Aboriginal derivation.  Howard would never slip. He had to read with a certain degree of pace to get every town and hamlet into a limited timeslot.  And he did it beautifully and perfectly.  

I often listen to the BBC Overseas Service during the night (yes I love my radio!), and there is a man whose name I have not yet found who reads the Soccer scores. Beautifully articulated but he draws out some of the words in an amusing way - I guess he is afraid of sounding monotonous because there are as many football clubs in England as there are towns to call for rain in Queensland.  I think he could share a Hall of Fame with our Mr Ainsworth.

BTW, I might mention that Beverley O'Connor has not done too well reading Queensland names in ABC TV news items about the floods this week. As an instance (and this has not been the only slip), she pronounced Munduberra incorrectly. She pronounced it as mun-doo-berra.  It is pronounced mun-dub-erra. Beverley  also pronounced, in the same broadcast, Dalby incorrectly.  She said Dal-bee.  Correct usage, is Doll-bee. She later pronounced the name again, this time correctly.  Beverley, sorry you have flunked the Hall of Fame test.  And, Mr ABC, I thought you trained people and trained them well.  Do you allow enough time for pre-reading and verification prior to people getting in front of the camera?

Thinking of you, Queensland.

Postcript at 1.50pm
I am currently listening to Qld flood news on ABC radio
via Livesteam

Anna Bligh says 80% of Emerald people will be out of their homes.
Waters rising in Dalby

at 3.50pm.
Condamine Township about to be totally evacuated
Condamine River the peak at Dalby
and Condamine area will experience that in the next week
Moonie River area is being evacuaed.
Homes in those areas have never had to be evacuated in 140 years

at 3.30pm
SMS texting appears to be working well in flood-affected places.
An Emerald man on hols in Thailand even got an SMS.
Theodore people now in Moura appreciate the help of Anglo Coal.
Dongas on the way. Theodore folks could be in Moura for a week.

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