Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dust Storm of 2009

While going through some photos at work to use on the website I saw a photo I had taken, on my mobile, back on 23 September 2009, at 6am, while I was on foal-watch.

It was the day of the 'Sydney Dust Storm' however the dust travelled far and wide, it was measured at 500km wide, and 1,000km long at one point, and it was visible from space.

I remember I had just checked the progress of one of the overdue pregnant mares, and saw an odd orange hue in the sky, my immediate thought was bushfire, but I couldn't smell anything, so I jumped on the quad bike and drove round the farm seeing if there was any threat.

The dust got heavier, and it was an 'orange out', at one stage I couldn't see more than a meter or so in front of me, checking the mares in the foaling yards, I had to virtually stand next to them to see them clearly.

Once I had done the rounds and realised there wasn't any danger I jumped online in the office, and saw that the dust was everywhere, some of the footage from Sydney Harbour was just surreal.
The farm at 6am on 'dust storm' day
According to Wikipedia:

The CSIRO estimated that the storm carried some 16 million tonnes of dust from the deserts of Central Australia, and during the peak of the storm, the Australian continent was estimated to be losing 75,000 tonnes of dust per hour off the NSW coast north of Sydney. The dust storm coincided with other extreme weather conditions which affected the cities of Adelaide and Melbourne.
While the cloud was visible from space, on the ground the intense red-orange colour and drop in temperature drew comparisons with nuclear winter, Armageddon, and the planet Mars. The dust storm was described by the Bureau of Meteorology as a "pretty incredible event" that was the worst in the state of New South Wales in nearly 70 years. The phenomenon was reported around the world. The Weather Channel's Richard Whitaker said: "This is unprecedented. We are seeing earth, wind and fire together".
Some of the thousands of tons of dirt and soil lifted in the dust storm were dumped in Sydney Harbour and the Tasman Sea. This increased the nitrogen and phosphate levels in the water significantly. Measurements taken two weeks after the event indicated an explosion of microscopic plant life which can be expected lead to an increase in fish numbers. 

It definitely is an interesting world we live in!

Till next time,


  1. I remember that day Mel, can understand how worried you would be about your horses. I can also remember one that happened way back when you were in nappies (or even earlier) and the unit I was living in was covered in dust, even though I'd been at work that day and the house closed up. Frightful stuff, but you took a great photo.

  2. Hi Chris, it was a bit scary, the dust was horrid, covered everything, but a friend at Broken Hill sent photos of the dust storms they get, holy moly, I couldn't live there with that happening all the time. Thanks re the photo :)

  3. I remember that day as well. It was surreal. Luckily I had done all my washing the day before, along with the housework - though that was a waste of time with all the dust that came in through all the window and door jams and down the chimney!

    I also remember the weeks of cleanup at work (furniture store with direct outdoor access) - dusting and sweeping and continual mopping - it felt like it went on for weeks!

    Another reminder of the power and might of mother nature.... :)

  4. I remember that, as Shelley said, it was surreal. Great photo of an awful time.



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