Dry, windy weather sent clouds of dust across southeastern Australia on November 29, 2009. The tan dust reduced visibility and prompted the New South Wales Government to issue health warnings asking people to stay inside as much as possible. Blowing dust can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat and can make breathing difficult.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this photo-like image of the storm at 2:15 p.m., local time. The dust appears to be concentrated most strongly offshore. Plumes of pale gray smoke blend with the smoke. The plumes rise from fires, which are outlined in red. The hot and windy conditions that gave rise to the dust storm also increased the fire danger in southeastern Australia.
The high winds and blowing dust are likely related to the same high pressure system over the Tasman Sea that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology cited as one of the culprits in a springtime heatwave plaguing southern Australia in November 2009.
The large image provided above is the highest resolution version of the image. The image is available in additional resolutions from the MODIS Rapid Response System.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Holli Riebeek, NASA’s Earth Observatory.