Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Freight Traffic Halted By Australian Dust Storm

East Coast Slowed to a Crawl by Freak Weather
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – In the worst storm of its kind in sixty years the port facilities at Sydney and Port Botany were forced to close, ferry services ceased and air traffic into Sydney and Brisbane was diverted or delayed, as visibility dropped to under 100 metres in places and particle pollution reached record levels.

The situation was exacerbated as Melbourne suffered two earth tremors, hail, in cricket ball sized pieces, fell on New South Wales (apparently a precursor to anticipated flash floods) whilst in Queensland the danger is from unseasonably flash fires caused by a drought.

The dust storm it seems, although apparently now abating, may have lasting effects as pollution levels, ten times higher than ever previously recorded, are expected to disrupt freight services through container ports and air terminals for the next few days.

Although dust storms are common across Australia they rarely reach coastal areas being confined to the arid central areas. For the moment however staying put and filter masks are the orders of the day as Australia waits out the weather.

Pic: a view of Sydney Harbour Bridge through the Dust