Sydney Dust Storm

That’s what it looks like, doesn’t it? In reality this is Sydney, Australia, Earth, shrouded in a severe dust storm that has covered much of the country’s eastern coast for the last few days. And while breathing is hard and transportation has ground to a standstill, the photos are spectacular.

Dust storms are common in Australia’s central desert, the “Red Center,” but rarely are they blown eastward toward the coastal cities.

To put the density in perspective, air pollution levels have been measured at 15,500 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of atmosphere. Compare that to a 10-20 microgram density on a normal, clear day and 300-500 micrograms per cubic meter in a brush fire’s heavy smoke.

Elsewhere in Australia, the seemingly apocalyptic conditions aren’t just limited to a red sky–earthquakes, hailstorms and bushfires have struck various sites on the eastern coast.

Sydney Dust Storm Before and After

[BBC, Flickr Blog]