Wednesday, September 23, 2009

EErie Day



Skies slowly returned to blue across NSW after a day that dawned dark red with thousands of tonnes of dust swirling in the air, playing havoc with transport and threatening health.

Ferries were cancelled on Sydney harbour, flights were diverted away from Sydney airport and health authorities warned residents across the state to stay indoors and avoid vigorous exercise on Wednesday.

Air particle pollution was hundreds of times higher than normal as a cold front moved across the state, picking up dust from paddocks desiccated by drought.

Up to 75,000 tonnes of dust per hour was blown into the waters off the coast and particle pollution was the highest on record - over 15,000 micrograms per cubic metre at times, when a normal day would see less than 20 micrograms.

NSW Health warned children, elderly people and those with heart and lung conditions to avoid outdoor activities, and said all vigorous physical activity should be minimised - even indoors.


The problems began on Tuesday when an intense low-pressure system formed over southern NSW and gale force winds on its northern edge developed during the afternoon.

"The winds whipped up a great dust cloud and that's been transferred across the whole of the state," the Bureau of Meteorology's regional director Barry Hanstrum told AAP.
Early on Wednesday, the dust hit Sydney, which woke to a blood-red dawn, fading slightly to orange as the sun rose higher in the sky.

And everywhere there was dust. It coated footpaths, shop floors, train stations and any other surface the wind could penetrate.

By late afternoon, the unusual weather system had pushed into Queensland, returning the Sydney sky to its normal colour.

The Bureau of Meteorology said it was highly unlikely Sydney would see a repeat of the rare dust storm any time soon.

Excerpt fro Yahoo 7 news....


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