Sydney Dust Storm

Photo: Shisberg [Flickr]

Residents of Sydney, Australia woke up today to find themselves in the middle of a bizarre dust storm that made the city look like it was on planet Mars! Dust storms are nothing new in Australia, but this one is the worst in decades ... but is it linked to climate change?

From Reuters:

Weather scientists are reluctant to directly link climate change with extreme weather events such as storms and droughts, saying these fluctuate according to atmospheric conditions, but green groups link the two in their calls for action to fight climate change.

Dust storms in Australia, the world's driest inhabited continent with a vast desert-like outback interior, are not uncommon. Central and eastern Australia is a major global source of atmospheric dust, say weather experts. But dust storms are usually restricted to the inland of Australia. Occasionally, during widespread drought they can affect coastal areas. Australia is battling one of its worst droughts and weather officials say an El Nino is slowly developing in the Pacific which will mean drier conditions for Australia's eastern states.

Before the Sydney dust storm, one of the most spectacular storms swept across Melbourne in February 1983, late in the severe El Nino drought of 1982/83. The extended dry period of the 1930s and 1940s generated many severe dust storms, culminating in the summer of 1944/45 when on several occasions dust in Adelaide was so thick that street lighting had to be turned on. Satellite images showed a 2002 dust storm, about 1,500 km (930 miles) long by 400 km (250 miles) wide and 2.5 km (1.5 miles) high, stretching across New South Wales and Queensland states.

Link | More photos of the Sydney Dust Storm at Flickr

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Sure it was cool to wake up to. What wasn't cool though is that we left the windows open that night and I had to spend the whole day wiping the orange dust off every surface in my apartment.
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I live in Sydney and i can assure it was very disconcerting to wake up at 5am to howling winds and an orange sky. I was not the only one who thought the world was ending!
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It reminds me of that song that goes " I see red I see red I see red,I see reeedeed I see red! and that song without words called sandstorm.Can yous play those the next time this happens?
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I couldn't imagine waking up in the morning and seeing that outside my kitchen window. Of course, I'd probably end up sitting at the window eating breakfast marveling at the oddity of it all. Then I'd grab a scarf and walk outside while playing some Pink Floyd on my iPod to enhance the trippy situation.
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