Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Sky at Morning...

We had a welcome thunderstorm yesterday which dumped about 15mm on us, and I went to sleep with wet earth scenting my gardening dreams. At 4am the stench of dust woke me, and there was a weird foggy look to the still-dark sky. At 6am it looked like this:


The westerly wind was cold -- usually it's a hot wind that we associate with bushfires. It was typically strong, though -- we were getting 60 km/h gusts while I took the photos, and 80 km/h later in the morning.

This dust is from northern South Australia, most likely the Lake Eyre Basin. It has travelled 1400km to us and is now on its way to Brisbane and New Zealand. In Sydney, the airborne particulates reached such dangerous levels that school children were kept inside all day. The Twig missed out on his school swimming lesson and on both outdoor breaks today*, but was kept happy indoors with domino runs, his latest craze. People with lung diseases were advised to stay indoors unless they needed medical assistance as a result of the dust-storm!

This dust-storm is unique. The last bad dust-storm in Sydney was in 1944, but it was not on the scale of today's. Moreover, our cultivation techniques have improved since then with the move to zero-tillage agriculture, and dust-storms in general have been declining. Today's dust-storm was caused by the present unusually long, unusually hot drought... which will become less unusual in the future, we fear.



* Children in Sydney schools usually have two breaks for eating and playing outdoors. At our school, one is of 35 and one is of 40 minutes.

7 comments:

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

It's quite dry here too as we haven't had rain for quite some time but a dust storm? Fortunately not. Glad the Twig was entertained indoors with his dominoes. ;-)

lightening said...

We drove through it heading from Gold Coast to Coffs. Hit it around Ballina. What I couldn't get over was how blue the sun looked. It was eerie!

Onesimus said...

We caught the edge of the dust storm on the day before it arrived on the coast. We didn't get it anywhere near as bad as the images from Sydney (we are 4 hours west of Sydney).

My wife has just spoken to her family further out west who said they are currently in the middle of another dust storm (at 4pm 25/9) so we are preparing ourselves for more airborn dirt.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

When I saw the pics on the news it reminded me of what the sky looked like when we had the bushfires. Before it turned blood red and then black.

Would have scared the bejezus out of me waking up to that.

Chookie said...

Yolanda, the thought of a dust-storm in the Netherlands... the implications of that are horrific!
Lightening, I missed the blue sun myself as I was at work. Pity that lovely portion of the North Coast was hidden from view, though.
Onesimus, they reckon more in Sydney tomorrow morning, so as I post it's probably just about to hit you.
Kelley, yes, it reminded us of bushfire smoke too. But the smell of it actually woke me up, yuk!

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Thomas said...

Wow, that's an amazingly colored sky. I don't know if I describe it as pleasantly calm or ominous. I don't see anything like that here in the northeastern United States.