A LARGE dust storm swept across NSW on Tuesday and Wednesday as fires burnt out of control in the state’s north east.
Satellite imagery detected a large mass of airborne dust building over western NSW early on Tuesday afternoon.
The dust storm was being created as blustery north-westerly winds picked up dry topsoil across drought-stricken areas of western and southern NSW.
In addition to the dust, a number of bushfires ignited in northeast NSW on Tuesday as temperatures reached 41 degrees at Casino and 39 degrees in Grafton.
The airborne dust swept over the dividing range late on Tuesday and affected coastal areas of NSW into the night.
As the sun rose on Wednesday morning, dust continued to spread across the north-east half of NSW, where it mixed with smoke from the numerous fires still burning in the region.
This is the latest in a series of dust storms that have affected NSW after a prolonged run of drier than usual weather throughout most of last year.
Every month except for October and November registered below-average rain in 2018, making it the state’s sixth driest year on record overall.
Last month was also drier than usual and the state’s hottest January and calendar month on record.
According to the latest drought report issued by the Bureau of Meteorology in early February, recent rain in parts of western NSW has done little to make up for longer term deficiencies.
Rainfall totals on both 10-month and 22-month timescales have been in the lowest five per cent of historical records for large swathes of northern and western NSW.
Some areas have recorded their lowest rainfall totals on record at both timescales.