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Meet Sally Cutter, the mind and voice behind your Top End tropical cyclone forecast

By Kate Carter, Sunday August 13, 2017 - 08:56 EST
ABC image
Sally Cutter is a senior forecaster at the Darwin Bureau of Meteorology. - ABC

At the Bureau of Meteorology in Darwin's northern suburbs, Sally Cutter is poring over charts, preparing the day's forecast.

It is so quiet you can almost hear a pin drop, as meteorologists beaver away putting together the latest weather updates.

"The forecasting can be a stressful job particularly when you have high-impact events like cyclones, big decisions are being made on your forecast," she said.

But Ms Cutter sees the world differently than most.

"I've got retinitis pigmentosa which is a genetic degenerative eye condition which leads to tunnel vision and night blindness," she said.

It means she can only see straight ahead and even then through a small window of sight.

The condition affects 10,000 people in Australia and can lead to full blindness.

There is no cure.

She relies on a white cane to get around.

"It's very easy to trip over things, walk into people, walk into objects, squash people, stand on small children, which I have done," Ms Cutter said.

Despite her condition, when a small alarm sounds, Ms Cutter cuts short what she is doing and snaps into action.

An earthquake has just struck, but it is on the other side of the world, so there is no risk to Australia.

She relaxes after confirming the threat has passed.

There are other sides to her job too and Ms Cutter has become a well-known voice in Darwin because she talks regularly on radio.

From her desk, she can go live into ABC, where she makes regular weather reports and chats with presenters.

Her other big love is music.

For the past 20 years, she has been playing double bass for the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

"I've probably seen more of the Territory through the orchestra than I have through work," she said.

She has had a camera specially made to fit onto her music stand which allows to watch the conductor and the music sheet at the same time.

Over time, her eyesight will get worse.

"If I get macular degeneration, I'm stuffed, because that will take the central vision which is all I have," she said.


© ABC 2017

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