NZHerald.co.nz is reporting four Air New Zealand flights to Sydney were turned back this morning due to red dust storms blanketing the city.
Meanwhile a WeatherWatch.co.nz reader based in Sydney says the dust is now starting to clear. “It smells really dirty, like thick dirt” says Claire Martin. “You can taste it – again, like dirt. I was only in it for a couple of minutes on the way to work but my chest felt really tight”.
Claire Martin describes visibility as low “like fog”. Employees where the reader works say they have never seen a dust storm like this before in Sydney and it easily surpasses the 2002 storm.
“Its really eerie…. this morning when we woke up and it was bright orange it was like the city was on fire. It felt like the end of the world!”.
Sydney on a sunny day…then from the same location this morning. Photo / Sydney Morning Herald.
Three flights from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch had to return after setting off between 7am and 8am today, Air NZ spokesman Mark Street told NZPA.
The Auckland to Sydney flight at 11am was also cancelled.
The Christchurch and Auckland flights returned home, while the Wellington flight diverted to Auckland.
“All flights have returned and the operations team are waiting for guidance from air traffic control in Sydney about when conditions are expected to improve.
“Passengers are waiting in the airport for the go-ahead.”
Residents of Sydney woke up earlier today to a scene that resembled a futuristic science fiction movie.
A red haze had settled over the entire city, limiting visibility to less than a kilometre.
Sydneysiders with health problems have been advised to stay indoors. Many CBD workers are wearing masks to protect themselves.