East Coast Lows and Dust-storms
- The winter storms of June 1967
- Rain in Sydney, August 1986
- The great dust-up of November 1902
- "Darkness at noon" - the summer of 1944-45
- The Melbourne dust-storm of February 1983
Some low pressure systems outside the tropics can match tropical cyclones in strength and destructive power. One type, so-called "east coast lows", develop near the coast between southern Queensland and Tasmania, mainly between autumn and spring. These systems can intensify very rapidly, and are capable of generating violent gales, in some cases approaching hurricane intensity. One powerful system in June 1967 caused extensive erosion of Gold Coast beaches. Drawing moisture from the relatively warm Tasman Sea, these systems can also produce intense, flooding rains; a noteworthy example being the storm that brought Sydney to a standstill in August 1986.
Synotic chart for the storms of late June 1967. The tight gradient indicates very strong winds; the long fetch of these strong winds across the oceans off eastern Australia resulted in huge swells that greatly damaged Gold Coast beaches.
Dust-storms, too, are a memorable event on the relatively rare occasions they affect coastal districts, as can occur during severe drought periods. Dust-storms were frequent during the extended dry period of the 1930s and 1940s: in the summer of 1944-45, dust was on several occasions so thick in Adelaide that street lighting had to be turned on!
A dust-storm rolls across Mildura, Victoria, at the height of the severe 1967-68 drought in southeastern Australia. (Photo courtesy of the Foto-fella Don Turvey and The Mildura and District Historical Society Inc.)