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'Huge' line of dust starts to reach Sydney

'Huge' line of dust starts to reach Sydney.jpg

Tourists take photographs against the backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House as a dust storm descends on Sydney, Thursday, November 22, 2018.(AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Sydney's sky is beginning to change colour as a thick line of dust stretching almost the entire length of NSW reaches the city.

Strong winds from a low pressure system has whipped up masses of dirt across the drought-stricken state, which is steadily heading to the coast.

A line of dust up more than 500km long can be seen from the Victorian border, through Canberra and up to Queensland.

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Sydney Dust Storm: Winds have picked up masses of loose dust caused by drought conditions in western NSW and shifted it east to Sydney. “If possible, stay in air-conditioned premises where filtration systems can help to reduce dust particles in the air. Dust may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause symptoms like eye irritation and cough. Symptoms can occur for several days after dust is inhaled, so people with the chronic conditions need to be vigilant with their treatment programs. People with asthma or a lung condition who develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, should follow their Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Action Plan. If symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice. If you are on home oxygen treatment, continue as prescribed and if breathlessness worsens, contact your doctor. Healthy adults may also feel the effects of fine particles that can irritate the lungs, so it’s wise to reschedule or cut back on prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when dust levels are high" - NSW Health’s environmental health director Dr Richard Broome. #duststorm #7News

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"It's a huge system," Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Anita Pyne told AAP.

"We're expecting the dust to gradually increase over the next few hours, with the main band of dust to hit Sydney through the middle of the day or early afternoon. So the worst visibility is yet to occur."

It was not uncommon for inland parts of NSW to experience small-scale dust storms, but one this size was "unusual".

"It's unusual for dust events to happen on the coast because we're so much further away from that dust over the western NSW basin and we've got the Great Dividing Range in the way," she said.

It's expected the dust will keep sweeping east and may not clear the coast until Friday.

NSW Health is warning the dust will likely reduce air quality and has urged children, older people and those with respiratory conditions to take extra care.

Environmental health director Richard Broome said people should stay inside as much as possible with the air quality in Sydney already dropped to a poor level.

"Even if we can't really see the dust, it's already affecting us," he told the ABC on Thursday.

"It's a serious situation from an air quality point of view."

He said dust particle can get very deep into people's lungs and cause heart and lung conditions, asthma and emphysema to worsen.

Meanwhile, snow is forecast for parts of the Snowy Mountains above 1100 metres.

"Everything's happening," Ms Pyne said.

One talkback caller said the sky around the Blue Mountains looked as though there was an eclipse.

"It's just crazy - I've never seen it like this before," he told Sydney's 2GB radio.

"It's getting worse. You can barely see 500m past the valley."

© AAP 2018

Image credit: Pixabay