Massive duststorm chokes eastern Australia; Atlanta floods ease

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:22 PM GMT on September 23, 2009

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A massive dust storm swept through eastern Australia today, turning the skies in Sydney a eerie shade of red-orange. The dust storm was reportedly the worst since the 1940s, and Sydney recorded its highest levels of particulate air pollution ever. The dust storm resulted from strong winds associated with a powerful low pressure system that swept through eastern Australia this morning. Winds today at the Sydney airport were sustained at 36 mph, gusting to 51 mph. Wind gusts as high as 64 mph were recorded in the Sydney area as the storm's strong cold front passed through. Particulate pollution levels are still in the hazardous range this evening in Sydney, but are expected to improve to the "good" range on Thursday as the winds die down and the dust storm dissipates.


Figure 1.. Strong northwesterly winds carry dust over Sydney, Australia, at 00 UTC 9/23/2009. Image credit: NASA.


Figure 2.. A strong cold front passing through eastern Australia this morning generated a sustained winds in excess of 20 mph over a large portion of the region.

Severe drought has affected large regions of Southeast Australia over the past three years (Figure 3). In isolated areas near Melbourne, the drought is the worst on record. The resulting loss of vegetation has created large regions of loose dust, which the strong winds from this week's storm was able to loft in the air and transport long distances.


Figure 3.. Rainfall deficiencies for Australia for the past three years. Image credit: Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Atlanta floods ease
Very heavy rains exceeding fifteen inches soaked the Atlanta, Georgia region early this week, triggering widespread major flooding that continues today. Rainfall eased yesterday, and all of the rivers in the Atlanta area have crested and are now falling. Record flood levels were observed on at least seven rivers and creeks in the Atlanta area yesterday, breaking records that had been set as long ago as 1919. Utoy Creek near Atlanta broke its previous flood record by nearly 11 feet on Tuesday. The floods have killed at least nine people and did $250 million in damage. Portlight.org is experimenting with a new disaster relief strategy for this flood--they have decided to adopt a single family to help, the Baxter family of Lithia Springs, Georgia. The Baxters lost their home, car, furniture, clothes, and everything else in their house, and need assistance to defray the short-term expenses of lodging, food, and clothing, so help out if you can.


Figure 4. Radar estimated rainfall for the Atlanta, Georgia region ending on September 22. More than 15 inches (white colors) had fallen in and around Atlanta.

There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss today, and none of our reliable computer models are forecasting tropical storm development over the next seven days.

Jeff Masters

Parkinson Avenue 06:15 (LNRSYDNEY)
Unusual sunrise 1
Parkinson Avenue 06:15

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Quoting tkeith:
Presslords wife is a very astute lady...I trust her observations...lol.

:)


LOL

Spoken like a true smart a$$
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Quoting presslord:
my wife is whining that ex-Fred is gonna mess up her golf plans this afternoon...I, frankly, think golf is stupid...but...my wife thinks I'm stupid...so I guess we're even...
Presslords wife is a very astute lady...I trust her observations...lol.

:)
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Quoting presslord:
my wife is whining that ex-Fred is gonna mess up her golf plans this afternoon...I, frankly, think golf is stupid...but...my wife thinks I'm stupid...so I guess we're even...


Oddly, we seem to be in the same position, press...I have one up on you, though...my wife and my stepdaughter think I'm stupid; we won't talk about what my kids think...too depressing to contemplate

LOL
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Quoting TheCaneWhisperer:
The basin is rather active today in the convection department.


Yup; convection and sheer everywhere.........
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Quoting presslord:
my wife is whining that ex-Fred is gonna mess up her golf plans this afternoon...I, frankly, think golf is stupid...but...my wife thinks I'm stupid...so I guess we're even...


haha I thought female's were always "right"?
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
my wife is whining that ex-Fred is gonna mess up her golf plans this afternoon...I, frankly, think golf is stupid...but...my wife thinks I'm stupid...so I guess we're even...
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Quoting presslord:
...please correct me if I'm wrong...but...I think I'm sitting right in the middle of ex-Fred at the moment...


Looks that way....Just off the coast waiting to pounce on you!
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The basin is rather active today in the convection department.
...please correct me if I'm wrong...but...I think I'm sitting right in the middle of ex-Fred at the moment...
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Quoting GOLSUTIGERS:
Weathermanwannabe did you wife make it up to Rome yesterday?


Thanks for asking; she postponed her departure until today, to allow for the rain to subside, and just left the house in Tallahassee 15 minutes ago. The radar loops looks clear up I-75 from Florida to Rome so I told her to stay off the "loops/connectors" and just ride out I-75 all the way up. She presents tommorow morning and I know she will hit traffic near Atlanta but should get in alright tonight to Rome.
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Lafayette, Purdue University Airport
Lat: 40.43 Lon: -86.93 Elev: 623
Last Update on Sep 23, 11:54 am EDT

Fair

76 °F
(24 °C)
Humidity: 62 %
Wind Speed: Vrbl 3 MPH
Barometer: 30.15" (1020.6 mb)
Dewpoint: 62 °F (17 °C)
Heat Index: 78 °F (26 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360
Sheesh, its been a boring tracking season. Atleast there have been no devastating landfalls.
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Quoting Bigguy675:


There is a televangelist that claims he's actually been able to use scripture and has calculated the last day of the world's existence is 5/21/11. I know this is a weather blog....and not a religious blog....but just thought I'd interject. So if you think that you're going to lose 9 days from the Mayan calendar, you're gonna lose a whole lot more if the evangelist (Harold Camping) is correct. Which I personally believe he is wrong. Ok....back to work.


Willaim Miller, one of the founding lights iof the 7th Day Adventists preached that the world would end (or rather, the Milleniuum begin) sometime in 1843; his congregation pushed him on it so he predicted that it would happen beween 3-21-1843 and 3-21-1844...these guys have been at it for quite a while
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Quoting StormW:


Yes ma'am...possible.

Good to here from ya, its been a while.
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Weathermanwannabe did you wife make it up to Rome yesterday?
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More photos of the Australian dust storm.

Certainly do a good impression of a Martian colony in times to come.

As for the Mayans, I'm pretty sure I remember reading one of the emperors talking about a lasting empire mysteriously stopping in 4772AD.

Since they apparently got the invasion of the Europeans right, maybe that one's for Yellowstone!

(Still another 2,500 years of films based on an impending apocalypse. What fun. Hollywood will be pleased, a long-time source of material...)
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Quoting StormW:
Greetings!

Hot off the press

Thanks Storm....You just about nailed the current conditions out there....WW
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Looks like a rogue gulf disturbance possible?
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Morning StormW Hope your day is going well
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Quoting Floodman:


Nope...the Mayan calendar ends on the 21st...you're shorting us 9 days, man!
LoL Good Morning Floodman hope all is well. If i had a dollar for everytime the world was supposed to end during my lifetime so far I'd be Rich have a good day
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Updated info on the Baxter family is available at the Portlight WU Blog...
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Mixed rainfall outlook for the December quarter

The national outlook for rainfall over the December quarter (October to December) shows a moderate shift in the odds favouring a drier than normal season across parts of northeastern and southeastern Australia. On the other hand, the odds are shifted in favour of a wetter than normal season in western and central WA. It should be noted though, that the December quarter is a seasonally dry time of year in northwest WA, with heavy rain being uncommon.

The pattern of seasonal rainfall odds across Australia is a result of recent warm conditions in both the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Pacific influence (El Niño) dominates the outlook in eastern Australia, while the Indian Ocean has had a greater influence on the probabilities in WA.
probability of exceeding median rainfall -


The chances of exceeding the median rainfall for October to December are between 25 and 40% over northeast Queensland, parts of Victoria, southeast SA and Tasmania (see map). This means that for every ten years with ocean patterns like the current, about six or seven years are expected to be drier than average over these regions, while about three or four years are wetter.

Contrasting this, the chance of a wetter than average conditions is between 60 and 75% for western and central parts of WA.

Across the rest of the country, including northern Victoria, NSW, NT, much of SA and eastern WA, the chances of exceeding the median rainfall for October to December are between 40 and 60%, meaning that above average falls are about as equally likely as below average falls in these regions.

Outlook confidence is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian Oceans affect Australian rainfall. During the October to December period, history shows this effect to be moderately consistent over much of the country (see background information).

An unusual El Niño event persists across the Pacific Basin, with most leading climate models forecasting the event to peak late in 2009. El Niño events are usually (but not always) associated with below normal rainfall in the second half of the year across large parts of southern and inland eastern Australia. The SOI is approximately +3 for the 30 days ending 19 September
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Can't very well use the second half: "...red sky at night, sailors delight..."
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Did tacoman (stormtop/stormkat/stormno/stormt) get banned?

Went through an entire blog with no comments. Said he was off to run some errands, and never returned.

I know some people ignore him, but every blog needs comic relief.
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Quoting hcubed:


"...red sky in morning, sailors take warning..."

Red sky all day, aussies can't play...

lol. Very good
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Quoting AussieStorm:


"...red sky in morning, sailors take warning..."

Red sky all day, aussies can't play...
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Any insight into the feature southeast of Bermuda??

I remember watching that area for a whole week in 2003, and sure enough Hurricane Juan formed out of it and headed North right towards us.
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Quoting P451:


The calendar itself does not end nor does the world according to the Maya.

What does happen is a destruction of present society occurs and a new society is born from the ashes.

This, according the the Maya will be the fourth (or fifth) destruction and then re-birth of society.

Why the Mayan 2012 prophecy is so misunderstood is beyond logic. I guess it sounds good to say the world is at an end.

That's a misinterpretation. Present society to them is at an end and a new one begins the very next day.

As I said this is the fourth (or fifth) time this has occurred in their known history and their known calendars.



It's the Judeo-Christian thing; when an age ends (or a covenant, in the case of Judaism) the world must end...we're wired to think of things this way
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Quoting AussieStorm:

The Victorian bush-fires where earlier this year, Feb 14th i think


Thanks Aussie. Stay safe.
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Good Morning....I see several areas of disorganized showers out there but seems like the only place with low sheer right now is between Central Cuba and the Bay of Campeche...Sheer looks pretty unfavorable everywhere else and with models not showing anything for the next several days, don't have a clue where anything might spin up over the next week.
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Quoting reedzone:


That pastor is totally wrong, we Christians believe the world ends when God comes and we don't know the day or the hour.


Reed....I agree with you.
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Quoting toasterbell:
Wow, Aussie! Thanks for posting the pics.

View more here
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Quoting lawntonlookers:
Thanks for the update Dr. Masters. Aussie, don't put your laundry outside to dry.

Dust storms in Australia and in the Scottsdale, AZ area.

Aussie, wasn't it this time last year when you had all of the fires?

The Victorian bush-fires where earlier this year, Feb 14th i think
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Wow, Aussie! Thanks for posting the pics.
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Quoting Floodman:


Nope...the Mayan calendar ends on the 21st...you're shorting us 9 days, man!


There is a televangelist that claims he's actually been able to use scripture and has calculated the last day of the world's existence is 5/21/11. I know this is a weather blog....and not a religious blog....but just thought I'd interject. So if you think that you're going to lose 9 days from the Mayan calendar, you're gonna lose a whole lot more if the evangelist (Harold Camping) is correct. Which I personally believe he is wrong. Ok....back to work.
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I see a nice area of convection under marginal conditions in the Western Carribean.. Should watch this
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Thanks for the update Dr. Masters. Aussie, don't put your laundry outside to dry.

Dust storms in Australia and in the Scottsdale, AZ area.

Aussie, wasn't it this time last year when you had all of the fires?
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An enhanced colour satellite image shows the dust storm covering over eastern Australia in this handout picture dated September 23, 2009. An outback dust storm swept across eastern Australia and blanketed Sydney on Wednesday
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Quoting Dakster:
That reminds me floodman, why did they end the Calendar then. Weren't you helping them with it?

You should have made them extend it a couple of hundred more years....



Ran out of decent rock to carve the calendar on...actually, that's not entirely true...we got to partying and the Long Count wasn't extended. Based on my calculations, the Long Count should end about 3536AD (August 10th, to be precise)...never underestimate the power of a good Mayan conga line
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Quoting Dakster:
Wow...

I thought i was dreaming when i woke up and all i saw was red.
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Thanks Doctor Masters,
good morning guys
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 25 Comments: 8360

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.