SYDNEY, Sept. 23 (UPI) — One of the worst dust storms in decades hit Sydney and other areas on the west coast of Australia early Wednesday, government officials said.
The dust reddened the early morning sky, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Dust levels in much of the city were well above safe levels.
Deryn Griffiths of the Bureau of Meteorology said extreme drought in central Australia probably caused the storm. High winds picked up the dust two days ago and blew it east toward Sydney.
“It started in South Australia and has since extended across all of New South Wales and into Queensland,” she said.
Griffiths said the storm is the worst Sydney has experienced since the 1940s.
The dust is expected to blow hundreds of miles to New Zealand. Samuel Marx, a climatologist with the University of Queensland, told ABC its impact may be most noticeable on the ski slopes.
“Most of the dust gets rained out on the west coast,” he said. “It’s quite common to see red dust deposited through the New Zealand snowfields.”
Copyright 2009 by United Press International