It’s a heck of a way to bring the temperature down but Birdsville experienced a slightly cooler day on Sunday – thanks to a whopping dust storm.
The town in Queensland’s far south west on the edge of the Simpson Desert last week broke Queensland’s record for the town with the most days over 45 degrees, when it recorded 10 consecutive days of the mercury rising over 45, from January 12-21.
Reaching as high as 47.2 degrees, the record was halted by a recording of 44.9 degrees on January 22, but the heat was back on the following day, Wednesday, January 23, shooting up to 46.2.
At 5pm on Sunday, January 27, the BOM app listed Birdsville’s temperature as 37.5 but feeling like 29.3, largely because of the thick blanket of dust across the region.
According to Birdsville Bakery owner, Martin Josselyn, visibility was down to 100m mid-morning but had lifted to around 300m by late in the afternoon.
“I’ve worked here for a couple of years and this is the longest I’ve seen one of these storms go for,” he said. “It was there at 6.30 this morning and it’s still going now.”
His words were backed up by long-term Birdsville resident, Bev Morton, who said the storm was ‘full-on’ at 6.30 with the usual whitish haze but at around 8.30, started to take on an eerie orange haze.
“It was like someone had put an orange filter over the sun,” she said. “This afternoon it’s gone back to the whitish haze, but it’s a hotter wind now.”
Dust storms have been a regular occurrence in the Channel Country this summer, a symptom of the extreme dry.
A spectacular towering cloud was recorded by Andy Picone at Wallyah, and others, in early January.
Bev said while she remembered them being weekly in previous dry times, Sunday’s was one of the ‘best’ they’d had for years.
“There’s no way you could go mustering or do any work in it,” she said.
While she hasn’t had to get the wheelbarrow in to clean up after a storm for years, today might be the day they put it to use again.
As far as the temperature goes, the seasoned Birdsville veteran said it was normal to have very hot weather but such a long stretch was getting them down.
“We haven’t had a break since before Christmas,” she said.
Birdsville held the previous state consecutive temperature record when it had six day over 45 degrees in both 2004 and 2013.
Marree in South Australia still holds the national record, of 13 consecutive days over 45 degrees in January 1973.