In a scene reminiscent of a really really good Hollywood disaster movie, Sydneysiders woke up Wednesday to find their city had turned red overnight.
A freak unprecented storm carried an estimated 5 million tons of Outback dust that settled over buildings, parks, and beaches; it even set off a cacophonous chorus of smoke alarms in Business District and almost totally obscured Sydney’s famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge in a ruddy Mars-like haze.
“We've got a combination of factors which have been building for ten months already–floods, droughts and strong winds,” Craig Strong from DustWatch at Griffith University in Queensland told the Daily Mail.
National and international flights were diverted to Brisbane and Melbourne, road visibility was greatly reduced, and authorities urged locals—and travelers—with asthma and other respiratory illnesses to stay indoors. There’s one group, however, that appeared unaffected by the end-of-the-world storm: surfers at Bondi Beach (of course).
Check out these incredible photos of the Aussie storm on Flickr.
For official storm info, click here.
Adrien Glover is the online deputy editor at Travel + Leisure.