By Jeremy Sollars
Reduced volunteer numbers and the lack of supervisors at the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre have meant recent weather records for the Granite Belt are woefully incomplete.
Just weeks away from the Snowflakes in Stanthorpe Festival – and with the possibility of snowfalls on the Granite Belt again this year – the Free Times can reveal that official Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) temperature and rainfall data for Stanthorpe for the entire month of January this year is non-existent and most of February and December 2016 is also missing.
Monthly data from March up to this week is also full of holes, with numerous maximum and minimum temperatures missing in any given week.
At the time of printing of the Free Times this week, no Stanthorpe data had been entered on the BOM website since last Wednesday 7 June, other than wind speed and direction which are recorded automatically at a non-manned weather station at the Applethorpe TAFE.
The Stanthorpe BOM weather station is located next to the Stanthorpe Visitor Information Centre on Leslie Parade, and up until early December last year temperature and rainfall data had been read and entered manually several times every day by Visitor Information Centre staff and volunteers.
But since the Southern Downs Regional Council took over tourism marketing of the region last year from the now-defunct Destination Southern Downs body, paid Visitor Information Centre staff are now a thing of the past and volunteer numbers have dwindled at the Warwick Visitor Information Centre as well as the one at Stanthorpe.
The BOM website shows readings at the Stanthorpe weather station were consistent up until 11 December last year, which was the last day a paid supervisor was on duty before the role was abolished.
No readings were entered between 12 December and 20 February and monthly figures for March, April, May and so far in June are incomplete.
Stanthorpe and the wider Granite Belt takes pride in being the coldest place in Queensland – with a longstanding rivalry with Warwick – and the gap in weather records will interfere with the calculation of accurate long-term averages for both temperature and rainfall.
Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce president John Bylicki said the chamber was aware of the weather data anomaly and had been in discussions with the council over rectifying the issue ongoing.
“One of our claims to fame in Stanthorpe is that we’re the coolest town in Queensland, that’s part of our positioning, so yes, we’re concerned about the issue,” he told the Free Times.
“We certainly don’t want to see this become the norm.
“We’re aware there are issues with the visitor centres and we’ve been having frank and open dialogue with the council.
“At the end of the day, they’re responsible for ensuring the weather readings are taken and entered properly.”
Comment is being sought from the council for next week’s edition.