Red Outback grit shrouded Australia's largest city Wednesday, blotting out such landmarks as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge and even reaching underground to coat subway stations. The country's worst dust storm in 70 years diverted planes and produced an eerie orange sky.
The haze was visible from space, appearing as a huge brown smudge in satellite photographs of Australia.
By afternoon, the dust had moved on from Sydney, heading north to the Queensland state capital of Brisbane, where the sky was clogged into the evening.
No one was hurt as a result of the pall that swept in overnight, bringing an eerie orange dawn to Sydney, but ambulance services reported a spike in emergency calls from people with breathing difficulties, and police warned drivers to take it easy on the roads.
The dust clouds formed in Australia's interior – parched by the worst drought on record – when gale force winds snatched up tons of topsoil and threw it high into the sky before carrying it hundreds of miles (kilometers) eastward.