Australian Weather Calendar: May 2016
In December 2008, in outback South Australia, Graham Nicholls saw his first dust storm—from closer than he’d planned. From where he was staying at Umuwa (the administration centre for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands), Graham saw the sky turn a weird red colour: ‘I thought I’d just grab the camera and go for a drive’, he says. ‘I drove out to the airstrip and I was confronted by that wall of dust; so I just kept clicking away, and eventually I left my run too late and got caught up in it. I started driving back to the donga and it was like someone just turned the lights out.’
For a dust storm to occur, the soil needs to be low in moisture, vegetation in the area needs to be sparse, and winds strong and gusty. They are most common in central Australia, and become more frequent and widespread in extended drought conditions.