By Alison Fox
November 22, 2019

After a massive dust storm kicked up in an Australian city, the skies became tinted with a deep orange-red color.

At about midday on Thursday, winds of about 40 kilometers per hour (or about 24.8 miles per hour) started blowing and temperatures reached a sweltering nearly 40 degrees Celsius (or 104 Fahrenheit) in the city of Mildura, Victoria, according to CNN.

The high temperatures and blustery winds combined to make the city look like it was another planet, an eerie and otherworldly scene.

And while dust storms are not uncommon, the country’s drought is making them more prevalent this year, The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"If you talk to any of the locals, everyone is saying the same thing — they've never known the frequency of dust that we're getting at the moment,” Mildura resident Sara White told the ABC.

The Victoria Bureau of Meteorology told CNN affiliate 7News that it has been a "very dry year through the northern part of the Mallee (district).”

And the dust caused visibility at the airport to drop from 4 kilometers to 500 meters, according to the agency.

Residents are encouraged to stay inside when these dust storms hit, as prolonged exposure can lead to chronic breathing and lung problems and even heart disease, Victoria's health department told ABC. The most vulnerable are young children, the elderly and people with conditions like asthma or heart disease.

These same winds and temperatures have contributed to the deadly fires that have hit New South Wales and Queensland, according to CNN.

The fires have gotten so bad that Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology was forced to declare a “catastrophic” level of fire danger, the country’s highest rating. At least three people have died in the fires, while hundreds of Koalas are believed to have died after a fire burned nearly 5,000 acres in an area south of Port Macquarie.

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