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sydney dust storm « Previous | |Next »
September 23, 2009

There are some amazing visuals of the Sydney dust storm getting around. The ABC collection has been steadily growing through the morning. At other sites it's a more personalised affair. If a reporter had been on hand to get a comment from that kid, we'd know about that too.

And, naturally, it's all over Twitter.

Margaret Simons watched the spread of news of the Melbourne tremors from Twitter to media and back again:

It was interesting to look at the Tweets and see the way people were interacting with the mainstream media. Some were waiting for “confirmation” from The Age, or the ABC, and were not prepared to believe that it had happened until they read it on an established media site.

But others were sneering that it was taking Big Media so long to catch up. And the media-savvy Wolfcat was doing his own checking on the Geoscience Australia site, and updating his followers with the results. He also pointed out that when The Age did carry the story, it was not confirmation but rather simply a reporting of what had already been said on Twitter.

Consuming news has become a layered experience. Watching the nightly news on telly isn't so much about finding out what happened today, as it is about how media will tell the story, or which stories and which bits of stories they'll leave out. It's more noticeably impersonal after you've been exposed to real, live, human on the ground versions and conversations across the country. News isn't something we consume any more. It's something we do.

The sky over the Gold Coast is currently going the colour of milky coffee. At this rate we'll have a Queensland sunset to go with the Sydney sunrise.

| Posted by Lyn at 11:32 AM | | Comments (10)


It's a lot redder than coffee down the road at Kingscliff Lyn. I've never seen anything like it before. The smell of dust is strong and you can't see the sun at all.

I'm sure Bolt and Blair will be along soon with some fun stories about a record cold morning somewhere in Peru.

It's dirty orange here now too. You can't blame the more susceptible for thinking it's the apocalypse.

I've never seen anything like it either and the smell is amazing. We can see the sun, but it's blue. It looks like a full moon.

bugger of a day to be a bird.

The Sydney Dust Storm Project on Flickr.

It shouldn't be just Sydney given it started in SA rolled through the town of Broken Hill in western NSW before hitting Sydney this morning and then Brisbane. In Broken Hill it turned black.

On the social network mainstream media relationship News Ltd's gallery of photos relied on reader's camera phones and cameras. Is there any reason for us to turn to the news media any more?

The micro-blogging platform Twitter has become the breakthrough social media tool for journalists, as they use it to cross-promote their own stories, comment on others, connect with contacts outside their usual silos and accumulate followers.It has become as a way to publish news briefs from events one is observing or participating in--the dust storm--- to share links to stories that are deemed significant etc. Twitter has become embedded as a component of the media's breaking news coverage.

you forgot about Miranda Devine pointing to the greenies carrying on about climate change.

2 points, both off topic [well one clearly is and the other apparently so].
1.Gary have you read this?
2.There seems to be an,may I call it, 'obsession' with how pretty and photogenic the event is rather than what is causing it, apart from the unususal extreme pressure pattern, and what this event may be hinting to us about our land management practices.

nope I haven't read the Ramsar wetland report by Jamie Pittockrom the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University. Thanks. I'll have a read.

Yeah the images are photogenic as they are well composed ----but the Broken Hill video is not. It's raw.

People in the metropolis are disconnected from the land and wouldn't really know how much it has been damaged.

I remember when I was a kid, we had a lot of dust storms like that in Adelaide. My ex-missus had similar stories from her childhood in Broken Hill. Adelaide doesn't get them so often now, because minimum till farming is widely practiced.

It's been amusing watching how this has been discussed around the traps. There's been a fair bit of Crocodile Dundee-type 'that's not a dust storm, this is a dust storm' stuff, the usual state vs state and city vs rural, 'how come it's news now that it's hit Sydney'.

I've been wondering the same thing as Fred and Gary. Put aside the hilarity over the susceptible waking up to the rapture, and I haven't seen a lot of contemplation over the circumstances that cause truckloads of topsoil to be dumped on the metropolis.

It's as much a wake up call for farming practices as anything else. Tomorrow morning Sydney siders will be hosing half the arable land down the drain. But most of the comment I've seen from country people has been along the lines of 'What's the big deal? This happens every day.'

there is an account of the origins of the dust storm here on ABC Science. Associate Professor Michael Box of the School of Physics at University of New South Wales says:

The Lake Eyre Basin area of central Australia is a dusty place, especially in early spring. Dust storms originating in this region are common, although it is far less common that the dust is carried the 1500 km to Sydney, and beyond. However, with winds of sufficient strength and the right direction dust may be carried off the Australian coast - even as far as New Zealand. You often get these dust storm events after you've had wetter years.After you've had decent rains like we had last year, you get flood waves moving through central Australia. These deposit lots of fine material and once this dries out it easily gets entrained by the wind."

The role of dust in climate modelling is still a large unknown.