Meet Jane Bunn, Meteorologist Extraordinaire

Victorians will instantly recognise Jane Bunn as the face of Channel 7 News weather since 2014.

As a highly credentialled meteorologist, Jane is passionate about weather and knows that better forecasting can make a huge difference to people’s lives and livelihoods – particularly for farmers.

After completing a degree at Monash University majoring in Atmospheric Science and Maths, Jane was selected to further her studies in Meteorology with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) where she went on to work as a forecaster in Sydney.

Her first television gig was five years as weather presenter at WIN News in regional Victoria where she developed a loyal following among farmers for her excellent forecasting and understanding of what weather mattered to them.

Her desire to deliver reliable forecasts to those who need it most has recently led to the development of Jane’s Weather – a precision forecasting website and app with particular emphasis on conditions for agriculture.

When Pairtree was looking for a new source of accurate weather data and forecasting to deliver to our clients, Jane’s Weather was the obvious choice.

“It was a no brainer for us,” said Pairtree’s Hamish Munro. “Jane combines the top performing global weather models and delivers forecasts 11 to 38 hours ahead of the Bureau of Meteorology.”

“Not only that, she delivers hour by hour forecasts for the next 10 days. That’s exactly the type of service Pairtree subscribers expect. Highly accurate weather data that is ahead of the pack.”

To introduce Jane to our Pairtree friends, we asked her about the big changes in weather forecasting during her career, why we should care about the Indian Ocean Dipole and what’s in store for 2023…

JANE: We’ve certainly come a long way since you’d receive a regular fax from the BOM with a district forecast – the same information that got sent to your local radio station.

There’s been an explosion in the amount of weather guidance available to farmers through apps or websites these days. The upside is they can access better forecasts. The downside unfortunately is they can also be very inaccurate and unreliable.

I suggest Facebook probably isn’t the place to get the best weather forecast and even BOM forecasts can be quite out of date. The other thing is that with so much data available, a farmer could take hours to read it all but then they’d need the skills to analyse it and know what data to include (and what to ignore) for it to be useful.

That’s what my job is all about. Knowing what data to trust, then how to read, calculate, interpret and analyse it. That’s why you need meteorologists.

We have two big drivers of weather in Australia. La Niña and El Niño in the Pacific Ocean – most people have heard of them, even if they don’t understand what they mean. Essentially, they are about whether the Pacific Ocean is pushing moisture towards or away from Australia.

That moisture is only part of what makes it rain, as low pressure needs to move through to convert it into downpours. So, if a low moves through in La Niña they bring heavier than usual rain, but in El Niño the falls are lighter.

Equally as important, but less well known, is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that does exactly the same thing but in the Indian Ocean. A positive or negative IOD is about pushing moisture away or pulling it in, determining how much rain falls if a low comes through.

When I started forecasting in 2006 very little was known about the IOD. They’d known it existed since the late 90s but didn’t really start studying it until this century.

Nowadays we have these amazingly reliable forecasts that tell us what that IOD is likely to do for the next six to nine months, which is hugely important for knowing how much rain could potentially fall in the next year, particularly in southern parts.

The past three years we’ve had both the Indian and Pacific Oceans sending moisture towards us, so whenever a low pressure came through it tapped into that moisture and turned it into heavier than usual rain.

For 2023 we are going in completely the opposite direction. Most of the models show that both of those oceans will push the moisture away from Australia. So no matter how many low pressure systems come through there won’t be the moisture available to bring the heavy rains we’ve experienced since 2020.

I think it’s really important that people don’t assume we’re going to continue with the heavy rains we’ve had. I want to get the message out there to conserve what you have.

I know in some parts we have too much water right now but do whatever you can to save that water because we’re going to need it later in the year when things really dry out.

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