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The 2009 Australian dust storm, also known as the Eastern Australian dust storm, was a that swept across the of and from 22 to 24 September. The capital,, experienced the dust storm on 22 September, and on 23 September the storm reached Sydney and. Some of the thousands of tons of dirt and soil lifted in the dust storm were dumped in and the.

On 23 September, the dust plume measured more than 500 kilometres (310 mi) in width and 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) in length and covered dozens of towns and cities in two states. By 24 September, analysis using at measured the distance from the northern edge at Cape York to the southern edge of the plume to be 3,450 km. While the cloud was visible from, on the ground the intense red-orange colour and drop in temperature drew comparisons with,, and the planet.

The dust storm was described by the as a "pretty incredible event" that was the worst in the state of in nearly 70 years. The phenomenon was reported around the world. 's said: "This is unprecedented. We are seeing earth, wind and fire together".

Contents

Map of Australia and New Zealand showing the progress of the dust affected area and dust plume at various intervals

concentration levels reached 15,400 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Normal days register up to 20 micrograms and bushfires generate 500 micrograms. This concentration of dust broke records in many towns and cities. The 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 and.

The dust is believed to have originated from and north-east South Australia. This includes an area known as the 'Corner Country', a dry, remote area of far-western New South Wales. In South Australia the dust may also have come from or the area, the latter raising concerns that it was radioactive and dangerous since the area contains the.

According to the New South Wales regional director of the Bureau of Meteorology, Barry Hanstrum, the cause was an "intense north low-pressure area" which "picked up a lot of dust from the very dry interior of the continent". Senior forecaster Ewan Mitchel said winds from a picked up dust from north-east South Australia on 22 September. That night the winds strengthened to 100 km per hour and collected more dust from areas in New South Wales that were drought affected.

New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory[]

The first city to be affected was, which was 'blacked out' at about 3:30 pm on 22 September 2009. At least one mine was shut down. It was also witnessed in. The storm blew across and the surrounding region by midday on 23 September 2009, before being washed away by overnight rain, the heaviest rainfall over Canberra in months.

It was reported that the dust set off across the state and prompted increased demand for emergency services. sufferers were hospitalised. Rain was also reported to have resulted, with -sized free playboy playmate photos hailstones falling.

The dust storm also reached the north coast of NSW on the morning of 23 September 2009. was affected by 7 am. At Coffs Harbour Airport visibility was down to 500 metres by 9 am and the airport remained closed until 10:30am. Grafton and the were affected by 8:30 am. It caused flight delays at Ballina airport and flight cancellations for most of the day at Lismore airport with visibility at 700 metres. A local school rugby union carnival was also called off.

Sydney[]

The storm caused severe disruption to international flights—several early morning flights from, and had to return to after finding themselves unable to land at. These flights were listed as cancelled and many others were rescheduled to a later time. 18 international flights were diverted to or, while six others were cancelled altogether. There were delays of six hours reported for overseas flights, whilst domestic flights experienced disruption of as much as three hours. Roads were disrupted, including the which was shut down. Building sites were closed. Ferry services were cancelled.'s scheduled day of horse racing was abandoned.

Schools were disrupted as those children who attended were distracted by the dust storm, while many parents kept their children home. School trips and sports activities were cancelled for the day, and children were directed to stay inside during breaks in some schools. experienced surging sales in Sydney as concerned residents rushed to protect themselves against the dust, with at least one retailer indicating she had sold more than during the.

Queensland[]

Residents of in South West Queensland reported low visibility on the morning of 22 September. By 23 September visibility in and in was reduced to 100 metres (330 ft).

was affected by the dust storm, although low visibility was less of a problem at than it was at Sydney.

The was also affected by the dust storm by 11.30 am, reducing visibility to 500 metres (1,600 ft). Work stopped at construction sites due to health concerns, powerlines were down in some areas, the was closed and traffic was slow with motorists using headlights. False fire alarms resulted in the evacuation of the Magistrates Court. Flights were able to depart but incoming flights were diverted. The beaches remained open with added 'no swimming' flags in unpatrolled areas. Two fishermen off the coast of were lost and a helicopter was required to locate them.

The dust storm reached Central and North Queensland by the evening of 23 September 2009. However the effect was less serious, with visibility between 50 and 7,000 metres. Commercial flights were not disrupted. Affected areas include,,,, and the (Normanton and Kowanyama).

New Zealand[]

Red dust from the storm reached on the morning of 25 September 2009, behind a weather front that brought cold temperatures to the North Island. It was observed by satellite, atmospheric monitoring equipment (a beta attenuation monitor) at and by dust settling on the ground. Dust settled across as well as in the,, and districts of the North Island and it also reached the 's.

Second dust storm[]

A second dust storm, originating in the same area but believed to be smaller, reached and by 10 pm on 25 September 2009. This storm arrived in Sydney between 4 and 5 am on 26 September 2009, it pushed the EPA Air Quality Index into the 'Poor to Hazardous' range. However this was not as intense and had cleared by mid morning. The storm reached Brisbane on the evening of 26 September 2009, with the haze expected to clear by 28 September 2009.

Gallery[]

  • , NSW

  • , NSW

  • Sydney, NSW

  • Suburban Sydney at dawn

  • (Sydney Suburb), NSW

  • Mid-storm and post-storm contrast, Sydney, NSW

  • city centre, NSW


  • (Brisbane suburb), Qld

See also[]

References[]

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  2. ^ Megan Doherty (23 September 2009)... Archived from on 27 September 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009. 
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  38. .. 27 September 2009. from the original on 29 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 

External links[]

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