THE 1983 MELBOURNE DUST STORM By Miss C 2014
The 1983 Melbourne dust stormwas a meteorological phenomenon that occurred during the afternoon of 8 February 1983, throughout much of Victoria, Australia and affected the capital, Melbourne.
Miss Clarkson was only 4 and a half years old when this dust storm happened. “I remember walking out to the street with my parents and looking up at the sky. It was all smoky and looked as though the sun was an orange fire. I also remember looking at the cars in the street and they looked as though they had a dust shower.”
During the morning of Tuesday 8 February 1983, a strong but dry cold front began to cross Victoria, along with hot, gusty northerly winds. The loose topsoil in the Mallee and Wimmera was picked up by the wind and collected into a huge cloud. At Horsham in western Victoria, raised dust was observed by 11:00am. Within an hour, it had hidden the sky.
Fed by the strong northerly, the temperature in Melbourne rose quickly and by 2:35pm it had reached 43.2 °C (109.8 °F), at that time a record February maximum. Around the same time, a dramatic red-brown cloud could be seen approaching the city.
The dust storm hit Melbourne just before 3:00pm, accompanied by a rapid drop in temperature and a fierce wind change that uprooted trees and damaged houses. Within minutes, visibility in the capital had plunged to 100 metres (330 ft). City workers huddled in doorways, covering their mouths from the choking dust, and traffic came to a standstill.
The worst of the storm was over by 4:00pm, when the wind speed dropped. The dust cloud was approximately 320 metres high when it struck Melbourne, but in other areas of Victoria it extended thousands of metres into the atmosphere.
The last massive dust storm in Australia, occured in Sydney in 2009. It too was just as spectacular.