Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
What started as a hobby when the region was struck by a severe thunderstorm has become a ten-year foray into the media landscape for a group of local meteorological enthusiasts.
Liam Leonard and his L&K Mackay Severe Weather Facebook page team celebrated their 10th birthday last week and cast their eyes back on the day when they decided to take weather warnings into their own hands.
“Ten years ago, we were lashed with a severe thunderstorm in the region,” Mr Leonard said.
“There was no Severe Thunderstorm warning from the Bureau of Meteorology. It came from nowhere.”
By the afternoon of that day, Mackay’s commercial radio stations had stopped broadcasting and no local information leaving no information to be passed by traditional channels.
“I thought, ‘Bugger it, I'm going to create a local, up-to-date, weather information page and do a much better job than our friends at BoM,’” Mr Leonard said.
As more severe weather events came and went, the followers and likes grew, and ten years on the page has gathered more than 25,000 followers and is home to four self-taught meteorological hobbyists who have managed a 99 per cent accuracy for major events.
Local businesses have jumped on board, providing key sponsorships to avoid a paid subscription service – including a partnership as the Mackay and Whitsunday Life Newspaper exclusive severe weather information source.
And the page continues to expand, covering the Whitsundays, Marian, and providing daily forecasts during the wet season with hopes to eventually become a full-time operation.
“We are still going strong, still giving the best, local, timely, accurate information with no scaremongering,” Mr Leonard said.
“The praise we receive gives us the incentive to keep doing something for the community, to help them out. I think people love that we’re here, we’re local – we go through the extreme weather with them. Pre-, during, and post-storm, we're here.”
The L&K Mackay Severe Weather Facebook page celebrated 10 years of being there for the entire region this month
Image: Marty Strecker Photography