The power in ordinary things: a career in weather
06 June 2017
With a lifelong sense of wonder about weather and the natural world, Tarini Casinader was a perfect fit for the Bureau. Starting out 38 years ago as a front-line meteorologist, she retires as our first female Regional Director.
From farmers to fire fighters, salespeople to sailors, pilots to politicians—there's something for everyone in a forecast from the Bureau. For the past five years as Victoria’s Regional Director, it's been Tarini’s mission to help Victorians from all walks of life decide how to plan their day. Her team of 55 professionals creates 100 000 weather forecasts and 2000 warnings annually. They work around the clock, 365 days of the year—in all weathers.
Image: Tarini in action at the Bureau’s National Operations Centre.
The allure of weather
But when Tarini embarked on her career at the Bureau in NSW, there was no thought in her mind about becoming Regional Director.
‘Not even the foggiest notion’ she quips, ‘I was just interested in the science. I love physics and I find the natural world extraordinary and fascinating—I keep wanting to ask why things work the way they do—so meteorology and the Bureau made perfect sense.
‘The world is so much more interesting a place because of the weather. It's hard to choose a favourite weather phenomenon, but it isn't sunny skies. I still find it astonishing that vast amounts of water can be stored in clouds, fall from the sky as rain, and then evaporate right back up again. Clouds come in such an amazing variety, snowflakes look like perfect little stars—and they’re just made of water, or ice. And every meteorologist rushes to the window during a thunderstorm. I think in the end it’s the power there is in ordinary things like air and water that is endlessly surprising.’
Spreading the message
In the early years of Tarini's career she worked in severe weather where the Bureau was building better services in forecasting severe storms and fire weather—and in hydrology—a neat match for meteorology. She learned to forecast and track some of the most furious weather that nature can throw at us—from severe thunderstorms and squalls to flooding and fire. In 1994, during the worst fires in 20 years in the NSW’s Blue Mountains, she worked in a new role as a vital communication link between the forecasting team and emergency authorities.
‘That fire went on for a couple of weeks and it was my job to provide continual updates to the emergency services coordinating the fire management on what forecasters were predicting. We were just realising the critical importance of close relationships between the Bureau and the people who use our forecasts, especially emergency services. I realised this was really what I loved doing—talking to people, explaining what we were forecasting in more detail, making our information truly useful to the people making decisions.
Becoming Regional Director
In the mid '90s Tarini moved to Melbourne to work in the Bureau’s head office. Over the next few years her team had a major role in developing the Bureau’s website, which is now the most visited government site in the country.
Later, Tarini's career shifted towards the corporate—moving the Melbourne office, including Victorian forecasters, to its current location in Docklands, kick-starting the first corporate communication team and navigating the variable temperatures of the parliamentary area.
But in the end, she came back to the weather and to ‘standing with her feet in the mud’ talking to real people in the community. She was appointed as Regional Director for Victoria in July 2012, the first woman to hold the role in the Bureau’s 109-year history.
‘I've been so lucky to have worked with such a wide range of people both inside and outside the Bureau—emergency managers, water engineers, professional communicators, even interior designers, and of course the immensely talented meteorologists. The Bureau is a trusted, valued part of Australian life and it touches so many people—to be a part of that makes me both proud and humble’ she says with a smile.
There are lots of things Tarini will miss about working at the Bureau—not least personalised weather forecasts straight from the best source.
‘I’ve loved daily access to the best weather and flood information I could have and people who can explain all there is to know about what’s coming…what a loss! But don't think I'm losing the love entirely—I'll still be rushing to the window when it rains and remain an avid user of the BOM Weather app and website!’
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