An enormous wall of dust has swept across vast areas of New South Wales and the ACT as a fierce cold front rips through the state, picking up soil and sand from the interior and dumping it further inland.
It’s already covered Canberra and the dust then headed for Sydney as the cold front marches north.
Satellite images have shown the dust streaming from NSW in a vast band through the state down to the South Coast. A vivid false colour map from the Bureau of Meteorology has show the dust cloud’s advance across NSW as a bright pink swath.
It came on a blistering Tuesday for Sydney that reached 36.3C in the CBD and 38.3C in Penrith, in the city’s west.
At 6.30pm on Tuesday it was still 34C in the Harbour City. In northern parts of the state fires have been raging in the baking conditions.
Yet south of the border it has been a very different story. At noon on Tuesday it was so chilly it was the second coldest temperature recorded in Melbourne this year — the first was in the middle of the night.
While north of the border, storms have been crashing through the southeast while the floods continue their relentless march to the oceans.
Sky News Weather channel meteorologist Rob Sharpe told news.com.au Sydneysiders should prepare to clear a dusty windscreen this morning as a wave of dust bathes the state in fine red dirt.
“There are dust storms across NSW and it’s spread across a very wide area, all the way from the border region of Queensland and South Australia near Tibooburra and all the way down into the ACT and even to the South Coast at Ulladulla.
“A strong cold front surging through the southeast is picking up dust and that could easily get into Sydney, most likely overnight.”
That cooler weather was likely to reach the city at around midnight he said which could see the mercury drop dramatically with Wednesday struggling to get to a high of 26C, 11 degrees below Tuesday’s high.
Canberra will see 24C on Wednesday and then the mercury will likely edge up again to the mid-30s on the weekend.
The windy, hot conditions have led to bushfires in the north of NSW. The state’s Rural Fire Service said at 7pm there were 51 bush and grass fires burning. Of those, 19 were yet to be contained and two remain at Emergency Warning level.
An out-of-control grassfire is burning west of Tabulam with authorities warning it could spread to the nearby Jubullu Aboriginal settlement on Tuesday afternoon.
An emergency warning has also been issued to people in the vicinity of a fast-moving bushfire burning south of Inverell in northern NSW which has already burned almost 1000 hectares.
Firefighters and aircraft have been unable to slow the fire which is burning to the east of Lake Copeton and spreading quickly towards Tingha. Properties are threatened.
A statewide fire ban issued for Tuesday has been extended to Wednesday for the state’s North West, Far North Coast, Northern Slopes and New England regions.
In Queensland, severe storms passed through the Sunshine Coast during the early evening.
Further south, Brisbane continues to swelter said Mr Sharpe: “Brisbane got to 35C on Tuesday, that makes it the 34th day in a row above 30C so it’s just been an exceptional run of consistent warmth.
“But we’re reaching the peak of the heat for Brisbane. Wednesday will be 36C and then there will be a cool change on Thursday. It’s not a huge cool change for Brisbane but it will get to around 30C on Friday and Saturday.
CHILLY IN MELBOURNE
Then you had south of the Murray, where the cold front has already passed through, and it’s practically scarf weather.
“In Melbourne, the cool change flew through late in the morning on Tuesday with temperatures plummeting from 21C to 15C in just 20 minutes,” said Mr Sharpe.
“It even got down to 12.7C which is where it bottomed out and that’s the second coldest temperature Melbourne has seen this year. It did get to 12.6C (on 1 February) but that was early morning and this was midday and with the wind chill factor it would have felt below 10C.”
Snow was now developing in Tasmania as low as 900m, he said.
Wednesday is unlikely to be as cool or as windy as Tuesday in Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia with far calmer conditions.
“We’ll see sunshine increasing and the showers dwindling as we move through the day,” said Mr Sharpe.
A low of 11C and a high of 19C in Melbourne with Hobart just a little cooler. Adelaide will reach 22C.
In Perth, expect a sunny high of 33C on Thursday, and the same in Darwin but with added storms in the Top End.
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