When I got to work though, I heard a bit more about Sydney's little dust storm. Apparently Sydney woke up that morning to an orange world! Overnight, high easterly winds were bringing the red dirt in from Australia's inland deserts, and dumping it all up and down the east coast. Here are a few photos from online news sources. You'll see the dual photo of the Sydney Opera House (how it normally looks, and how it looked in the storm), one of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and a famous one (that I keep seeing everywhere) of that woman going for a run under the Harbour Bridge. Pretty crazy stuff!
A few hours later, we heard that there was a good chance that we'd get a bit of the dust storm hitting Brisbane, although not as bad as Sydney. By lunch time, I couldn't see the high rise city buildings on the other side of the river! Our dust storm was more yellow than orange, but here's a few photos (again, from online news sources). I picked a couple of the Story Bridge, because I work right under the bridge on one side.
What's strange about the photos is that you can't see any of the cliffs or buildings that you'd normally see in the background - pretty surreal! The dust didn't come inside toooo much, although you could taste it in your mouth, and the light coming in through the windows made everything seem a surreal amber colour. Visibility was down to about 100metres during the middle of the day. Luckily, people were home at our house, and shut up all the windows, but a lot of people had left their windows open in the morning when they headed off to work - and did they have a mess awaiting them when they got home that night - a layer of dirt over everything in their homes!
As the dust was coming in, I looked out at the park across the road and saw a bunch of elderly people having a picnic (the nurses and bus indicated that they'd come out for a lovely outing in the city). Obviously the didn't stay long! But they had a few of us worried as they dragged their oxygen tanks back to the bus!
The 'storm' lasted over a 2-3 day period up the entire east coast of Australia. At it's peak, they estimate that 75,000 tonnes of dust were being lost from the Australian continent (out into the pacific ocean) ever hour. That's crazy. Scientists are still arguing about what that will do to the barrier reef. If your interested in the details of the storm (and they're fascinating), look at the wikipedia entry. Do you know what I thought was strangest of all though? That we didn't know it was going to happen in advance. I'm a bit of a weather report junky, and I can always tell you what the weather is looking like for the next couple of days, but no one in Sydney really knew it was coming till they woke up that morning! We just knew it going to be windy :) And I didn't really know it was happening in Brisbane until I noticed the light in the office changing, and then went to look out the window.
It had subsided some by the time I drove home, but visibility was still low. As I walked out to my car, there wasn't really anyone around on the streets, and everything was really quite. The street definitely had a bit of a spooky nuclear winter thing going on. The air was really heavy, and the lights all looked really eery (and beautiful) as they shone down through the dust.
So there you have it. The dust storm that didn't hurt anyone, but has left behind a huge mess, and was incredibly interesting.
We should all encourage mum to post a post about an experience she had in a severe dust storm when she was a little girl and her family lived out in the desert - it's a really fascinating story!