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Weather bureau sparks storm with bizarre name change plan

BOM is no more, making way for the Bureau, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

BOM is no more, making way for the Bureau, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 19/10/2022

The Bureau of Meteorology has caused an online fracas with a stern warning to Australians to stop using its common nicknames.

In a peculiar rebranding, the bureau announced on Tuesday it wanted to be known by its full title or as the Bureau (with a capital B, please), rather than – as is common – the weather bureau or BOM.

“Until now, our name and visual identity were expressed differently across content and channels. Feedback from a wide range of stakeholders has been that this variability can sometimes impact negatively on the effectiveness of our messaging,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson said.

The Bureau sent out a statement requesting media outlets update their editorial style, to “ensure references to the organisation are by its full name”, even citing the 1955 Meteorology Act.

“With an ever-increasing number of severe weather events, it is more crucial than ever that the Bureau of Meteorology’s insights, wisdom, data and information are shared, understood and acted upon,” it said.

“Through regular forecasts, warnings, monitoring and advice spanning the Australian region and Antarctic territory, the Bureau provides one of the most fundamental and widely used services of government.

“Please update your style guides accordingly.”

bom name change

What about the app? Tuesday’s announcement did not say. Image: Facebook/Bureau of Meteorology

Murky response

The feedback for the abrupt moniker change was anything but sunny, as Twitter users highlighted the timing of the decision.

Thousands of Victorians have been left displaced this week following devastating floods across south-east Australia – with another forecast for heavy rain in coming days.

Federal Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek said her focus was on BOM providing accurate and “timely information to communities affected by floods.”

“The rebrand commenced under the previous government for reasons I don’t quite understand,” she said in a statement.

The government weather authority also noted that it would revise its social media handles to reflect these changes.

“Please note, to support this change we are updating our main Twitter handle to @TheBureau_Au. Our state Twitter handles will be updated to @TheBureau_NSW, @TheBureau_ACT, @TheBureau_Vic, @TheBureau_Tas, @TheBureau_Qld, @TheBureau_SA, @TheBureau_NT and @TheBureau_WA,” the Bureau wrote.

But disgruntled Twitter users were one step ahead – quick to point out that the handles it was seeking already belonged to other users or had not been snapped up by the weather agency before its announcement.

“We are working closely with Twitter to rectify this, in the meantime, all existing BOM Twitter handles remain active,” a Bureau of Meteorology spokesperson said.  

“Through all our communications, we recommend that members of the community stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings through our website and app. It is important to note that social media is not a primary channel that we use to communicate our forecasts and warnings.”

There are reports that the rebrand was a year in the making and came with a hefty price tag, costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Whether or not the BOM Weather app and the Bureau’s website will reflect these changes has yet to be confirmed.

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