2009 Sydney Dust Storm

In the fall semester of 2009, I studied abroad in Sydney, Australia with two of my friends from St. Bonaventure University. We met five other girls who quickly became our best friends. The seven of us did a lot of traveling and exploring. We wanted to make the best out of our time in Australia because who knew if we would ever come back again.

Around this time two years ago, we spent our Australian spring break on the South Island of New Zealand. We were on a tour with about 30 people from all over the world. I learned a lot during my 9-day trip about these new people and their cultures.

One morning, on September 23rd, we had arrived in Queenstown, NZ, known as the “Adrenaline Capital of the World” because of its extreme bungee jumping and skydiving adventures. We woke up that morning all ready to do some exploring. We started off our morning by watching the news and eating breakfast, but when we turned on the news, it was talking about Sydney and how the city was hit with a dust storm. We immediately freaked out that we wouldn’t make it back to our apartments at Macquarie University.

Sydney Opera House covered in dust.

The dust storm was one of the worst in history. People got very sick. The Sydney airport was shut down and people did their best to stay indoors. My friends and I were somewhat upset that we were missing this event because no one ever can experience something like this. And, being the weather freak that I am, I wanted to be there the most.

But, it was a good thing I wasn’t. My friend Sandy and I lived in an on-campus apartment with three roommates, two from China and one from Korea. We did not interact with them very much, so we did not know if they were home or not when we were off on our spring break adventure. Turns out, they were not home and they left all of our windows open. We made our way back from New Zealand safely, but when Sandy and I walked into our apartment there was red dust everywhere. It was all over our kitchen table, living room furniture, kitchen counters, shelves, and every other corner of the apartment that you can imagine. Luckily, we kept our bedroom windows shut and locked so they were clean and safe.

The dust storm went away quickly but left some people sick. If you ever happen to be caught in a dust storm, try to find a mask or something to cover your face to save you from a trip to the hospital. The best thing to do is stay inside and keep all your windows shut and make sure you block the bottom of the doors to the outside so no dust can sneak in.

Here is a video I found on a live account of the storm: 

Have you experienced anything like this? What do you think you would do in a time like this? Feel free to share your experiences and comments. I’d love to hear them!