Today Sydney had terrible dust storms – pictures and news articles all the way over in Ireland about it, but honestly like most things Sydney, that’s old news. Check out these shots of the Feb 8 1983 Melbourne dust storms:
Fed by a strong northerly, the temperature in Melbourne rose quickly and by 2:35pm it had reached 43.2°C, at that time a record February maximum. Around the same time, a dramatic red-brown cloud could be seen approaching the city.
The dust storm hit Melbourne just before 3:00pm, accompanied by a rapid drop in temperature and a fierce wind change that uprooted trees and damaged houses. Within minutes, visibility in the capital had plunged to 100 metres. City workers huddled in doorways, covering their mouths from the choking dust, and traffic came to a standstill.
The worst of the storm was over by 4:00pm, when the wind speed dropped. The dust cloud was approximately 320m high when it struck Melbourne, but in other areas of Victoria it extended thousands of metres into the atmosphere.
It was estimated that about 50,000 tonnes of topsoil were stripped from the Mallee (approximately 1,000 tonnes of it being dumped on the city). The combined effect of drought and dust storm inflicted damage on the land that, according to the then President of the Victorian Farmers and Graziers’ Association, would take up to 10 years and tens of millions of dollars to repair.
The exact weather pattern that had caused the dust storm was repeated one week later, when the Ash Wednesday fires caused enormous destruction and loss of life.