Hidden danger as dust settles
THE worst of the dust storm hit Sydney yesterday morning but don't be fooled, it's still dangerous.
NSW Health warns the air quality across the city is "hazardous", potentially unhealthy for anyone, but particularly those with heart and lung conditions.
"I think it's important for the rest of the day people are cautious," NSW director of environmental health Dr Richard Broome said.
Bureau of Meteorology severe weather manager Simon Louis said while the peak of the dust hit Sydney midmorning, a "second pulse" was due overnight when conditions were expected to deteriorate again.
"We may still see dust haze linger over the next couple of days," Mr Louis said.
"It should continue to reduce in intensity as it goes."
He said the dust storm was among hazardous weather across the state, with strong 90km/h and extremes - bushfire warnings in some areas and snow in others.
"The cold front has also brought over dry weather into the east of NSW and there's a fire warning for the Hunter Valley," he said this afternoon.
"It's also bringing quite cold air behind it and we've had snow in the alpine region."
A thick line of dust which was "the size of Tasmania" stretched almost the entire length of NSW yesterday.
Strong winds from a low pressure system has whipped up masses of dirt across the drought-stricken state.
A line of dust more than 500km long could be seen from the Victorian border, through Canberra and up to Queensland.
It is not uncommon for inland parts of NSW to experience small-scale dust storms, but one of yesterday's size "unusual".
A public health warning remains in place because of the bad air quality.
Dr Broome said anyone at risk should remain indoors, use their airconditioner and avoid outdoor exercise.
He also said people should check in with their elderly relatives and neighbours.
"Dust may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause symptoms like eye irritation and cough," he said.
"Symptoms can occur for several days after dust is inhaled, so people with the chronic conditions need to be vigilant with their treatment programs.
"People with asthma or a lung condition who develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, should follow their Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Action Plan."
Delays hit flights at Sydney Airport for most of the day.
Earlier a spokesman for Sydney Airport tweeted: "Due to weather conditions, single runway operations are currently in effect. International and Domestic terminals are experiencing some flight delays. Please contact your airline for more information."
An Airservices Australia spokesman said Sydney airport has advanced procedures to allow for landing and taking off in low visibility conditions.
Parts of the state have already experienced dust storms this week with Griffith in southwest NSW covered by dust on Tuesday.
INCREDIBLE DUST STORM HITS OUTBACK PUB
It comes after an awe-struck pub owner captured the moment an insane dust storm "blew away" her outback town on Tuesday.
Olivia Probyn, the manager of the White Cliffs Hotel, in the remote town of White Cliffs in northwest NSW, said one moment the tiny outback community was going about its day, and five minutes later it was cloaked in an eerie blanket of red dust - obscuring everything in sight.
She said it descended on the town unexpectedly yesterday, after locals spotted it brewing in the distance five minutes before it struck.
"It was incredible, everything turned red and it just blew the town away," she told news.com.au. "It was so thick that I couldn't even see the corner shop across the road. It was that bad."
Ms Probyn said it's the second major dust storm to lash the town this month after another similar occurrence on Melbourne Cup day.
"They don't hit often, but when they do they hit hard," she said. "It was spectacular and I didn't know what to do after.
"Everything was covered in dust and it was getting in through the cracks in the building because it's quite an old pub, the tiling was covered in thick mud so there was a big clean-up."
Ms Probyn uploaded dramatic footage of the storm onto Facebook and within hours it had racked up thousands of views from users who left comments expressing shock and gratitude they weren't caught in the wild storm.
"Yikes!!," wrote one commenter. "Thank goodness we didn't have to go through this that night we went to White Cliffs."
And, if you think this ridiculous weather is reserved for the outback, think again.
Sydney could find itself blanketed by a red haze later this week with the possibility of a dust storm sweeping across NSW.
Forecasters are closely monitoring a system headed towards the state and associated high winds that could pick up masses of loose dust caused by drought conditions.
The conditions are looking similar to those that led to the Sydney dust storm of September 2009, which blanketed Sydney as well as the rest of NSW.
There were more than 130 calls for help due to breathing difficulties, re-routed flights and smoke alarms ringing across the city as the wild storm hit nine years ago.
It was so bad, that it inspired Oscar-winning Blade Runner 2049 cinematographer Roger Deakins' post-apocalyptic, dust-filled version of Las Vegas in the 2017 sci-fi blockbuster.".
A cold front which moved through South Australia yesterday, along with a low pressure trough over New South Wales, is responsible for the current storm threat.
However, whether a storm forms in Sydney depends on the strength of the winds.
Meanwhile, snow is forecast for parts of the Snowy Mountains above 1100 metres. "Everything's happening," Ms Pyne said.
One talkback caller said the sky around the Blue Mountains looked as though there was an eclipse.
"It's just crazy - I've never seen it like this before," he told Sydney's 2GB radio.
"It's getting worse. You can barely see 500m past the valley."
It comes just two weeks after drought-hit western NSW farmers had to contend with a horrendous dust storm rolling across the region.
Walls of dust descended on November 8 ahead of thunderstorms which brought between five and 15mm of rain, providing some relief for graziers but well short of drought-breaking falls.
- with AAP