It could be a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie. But this is for real as Australians witnessed this unprecedented event.
Sydney residents woke up Wednesday to see the city blanketed by a colossal dust storm. The city was just a red glow.
According to one Australian weather commentator, it was like seeing "earth, wind and fire" all wrap up together to make a perfect dust storm.
Reports said the outback mining town of Broken Hill was completely blacked out.
The dust storm swept across eastern Australia, disrupting transport. International flights were diverted from Sydney.
Reuters reported that ferries on Sydney Harbour were suspended and commuter motorists warned to be careful on roads as visibility was dramatically reduced.
Health authorities urged people with asthma or breathing difficulties to stay indoors. The dust set off smoke alarms in some buildings in Sydney's central business district.
Weathermen said a major cold front in New South Wales state caused severe thunderstorms and gale-force winds, which whipped up the dust from the drought-stricken inland and spread it across Australia's most populous state.
The 100 kilometre per hour plus winds also fanned bushfires in the state.
Reuters reported that the blanket of dust stretched hundreds of kilometres along the coast from Sydney, from the coal port of Newcastle in the north to the steel city of Wollongong in the south, and hundreds of kilometres inland to farming towns like Dubbo and Tamworth.