Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dust Dust Go Away!

We woke up to a very orange sunrise yesterday morning following a very stormy night. Brad and I were actually hiding under the bed and Mama had a tough time luring us out. You would hide too if you could hear the terrible sound of the wind.
Now, back to the orange skyline. Mama was supposed to go to work after a long weekend of festivities. But as soon as she opened the balcony door, she coughed and wheezed terribly. Quickly switched on the telly and the people were broadcasting news that Sydney was enveloped in a dust storm. It was what the night storm brought from further inland.

Sydney's iconic Harbour Bridge was "painted" orange, no climbs for tourists! (pix: AP)

Among the bits and pieces of the news we picked up:
SYDNEY – Australia's worst dust storm in 70 years blanketed the heavily populated east coast Wednesday in a cloud of red Outback grit, nearly closed the country's largest airport and left millions of people coughing and sputtering in the streets.
No one was hurt as a result of the pall that swept in overnight, bringing an eerie orange dawn to Sydney, but ambulance services reported a spike in emergency calls from people with breathing difficulties, and police warned drivers to take it easy on the roads.
Dust clouds blowing east from Australia's dry interior — parched even further by the worst drought on record — covered dozens of towns and cities in two states as strong winds snatched up tons of topsoil, threw it high into the sky and carried it hundreds of miles (kilometers).
International flights were diverted from Sydney to other cities — three from New Zealand were turned around altogether — and domestic schedules were thrown into chaos as operations at Sydney Airport were curtailed by unsafe visibility levels. Passenger ferries on the city's famous harbor were also stopped for several hours for safety reasons.
The dust over Sydney had largely cleared by midafternoon, though national carrier Qantas said severe delays would last all day because of diverted and late-running flights.
The dust was still flying further north, however, and the sky over the Queensland state capital of Brisbane was clogged with dust into the early evening.
Such thick dust is rare over Sydney, and came along with other uncommon weather conditions across the country in recent days. Hailstorms have pummeled parts of the country this week, while other parts have been hit with an early spring mini-heatwave, and wildfires.
"It did feel like Armageddon because when I was in the kitchen looking out the skylight, there was this red glow coming through," Sydney resident Karen told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
The storms — visible as a huge brown smudge in satellite photographs of Australia on Wednesday — are the most severe since the 1940s, experts said. One was recorded traveling from southern Australia all the way to New Zealand some 1,400 miles (2,220 kilometers) away.
Officials said particle pollution in Sydney's air rose to the worst on record Wednesday, and the New South Wales state ambulance service said it had received more than 250 calls before midday from people suffering breathing problems.
People with asthma or heart or lung diseases were urged not to go outside and to keep their medicine inhalers handy.
"Keeping yourself indoors today is the main thing to do if you have any of those conditions and particularly if you're a known sensitive sufferer such as children, older adults or pregnant women," said Wayne Smith, a senior state health official.
Sydney residents coughed and hacked their way through their morning commute, rubbing grit from their eyes. Some wore masks, wrapped their faces in scarves or pressed cloths over their noses and mouths.
"These dust storms are some of the largest in the last 70 years," said Nigel Tapper, an environmental scientist at Monash University. "Ten very dry years over inland southern Australia and very strong westerlies have conspired to produce these storms."

So Mama didn't go to work as she wasn't taking any chances, with her delicate health and all. We all stayed indoor, didn't open any doors or windows, except the bathroom window. Mama had to clean up the reddish dust settling on the sink, bathtub, tiles and towels. Heheheh...and she had just cleaned the bathroom last weekend...poor Mama.
Mama took some photos in the afternoon. We couldn't see much beyond the houses at the back of ours. Eerie, I thought.

View from our balcony in the afternoon.

Today, we could all hear Mama's shrieking as she walked to her car. The white thingy is now "pink". At least she has a valid reason to breach water restriction and wash her car. Or just go to the nearest carwash centre. teeheehee...


Pi Bani said...

There's a RM3 snow carwash near my place. Tell her mama to wash her car here... ;)

Would you have turned orange if you went out?

mamasita said...

Hai Cat..hope everything gets back to normal again.
Say Hi to your Mama ok..

~CovertOperations78~ said...

That's terrible! I did read about the dust storm in the news. What an environmental catastrophe it is! All these problems are at least partially man-made -- we raise livestock in places where water and vegetation is scarce. And when everything has been grazed to death and the aquifer wells have run dry, guess who has to suffer the consequences? I hope the Australian government will consider cultivating trees at the fringes of the outback to act as a buffer.
Please let your Mama know that I pray she gets well soon. I wish I were there to help with the cleaning! Did you help Mama, Angelina, by not stepping all over the dust and getting in her way?

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
There's a Shell station nearby offering carwash at just $5 (normal price $14.90). Mama has bought the ticket (promo ends today) and it's valid for 30 days. I may turn pink, not orange if I had ventured out, I think. purrr...

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Heaps of cleaning up to do. Would u like to help clean the bathroom? Mama said Hi too.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Human made! Human made! Lucky am a cat. We made ourselves useful by hiding under the duvet all day. Didn't get in Mama's way at all. Nope, we were good.

Kak Teh said...

hope your mama is not that affected by the dust, but it does make good photography if you hold your breathe long enough and go click, click clck on the digital.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Kak Teh dearie,
It was of neighbours' children was screaming "Mum, I think it's the end of the world." Did affect Mama a lot: 1. heaps of cleaning in the bathroom, 2. more coughing and wheezing, 3. couldn't go to work, 4. had to wash car (or rather, fork out money to wash car). The pix we took was from inside d house, we dare not even open the balcony door. purrr...

Lee said...

Hi Cat, gosh, that bad, huh? Yes, we have been reading about that red dust here in our papers as well on TV.
You better keep indoors, or wear a mask, ha ha.
By the way, you heard that hilarious Sydney radio talk show, 'mate match'?
Pop over my pondok when free.
G'day mate, Lee.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cat,
Hope things have improved over the weekend. Shocking, innit? But I hope you have kept some of that orange dust in a small bottle for souvenir *giggles*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Uncle Lee,
Mama doesn't like listening to Sydney radio. Too much nonsensical yakking, she said. Anyway, as she usually walks to work and doesn't get stuck in traffic, so not forced to listen too. Will pop over your pondok soon. Been busy "opening houses" over the weekend. Only Malaysians celebrate Eid the whole month!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Andrea dear,
Mama gets sick if she inhales the dust so we don't keep any for souvenirs. She has even hosed down all the plants in our garden.
It was very windy over the weekend but the dust decided to go further north to Queensland. We were spared.

Unknown said...

Dear Cat-in-Sydney

Hope things have eased off by now and that you all are in good health...Take care and drink plenty of water!!!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Paula,
Mama seems to be coughing again. We are worried. Help!!! Won't you come and babysit us?

Naz in Norway said...

Hey there!
I hope your Mama is fine now.
Gosh! all that dust...must have been quite a sight (or rather lack of it!).
Need babysitting?...three kids yearning for a cat or two here in Norway :)

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Naz,
We would gladly move to Norway but won't it be too cold for us? We have a tendency to just snooze on cold days...oh...we so lurve the heater and the electric blanket.

Cheqna said...

hope all's well by now and hope ur mama recovers fully soon.

anneaziz said...

Hi Cat,

You wanna share a secret? I'm scared stiff of howling winds! So if I was there in Sydney then, I'd be with you two under the bed! Won't be much help to your mama, hehehe!

All that dust can't be good for your mama's recovering lungs...tell her to wear a purdah...who knows it might even be the start to a new post-dust-storm fashion!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Mama will be fine. Don't worry. She's made of some tough stuff - stainless steel, sterling silver, 18K gold etc etc....

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Anne,
We can play "batu seremban" under the bed with you too...heheheh...
The cough's not too bad now. As long as there's no more dust storm coming.