Huge Dust Storm Rains Down Lightning
...as Australia battles wildfires, high winds, and a cyclone
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2013 4:55 PM CST
The apocalypse? Nope, just a giant wall of dust heading for Australia.   (YouTube)
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(Newser) – Australia's heat-and-wildfire devastation produced one set of iconic photos yesterday; here's another. A tug boat worker snapped shots of a massive thunderstorm laden with red dust as it moved out toward the Indian Ocean, The West Australian reports. "We were steaming along in the boat just before sunset and the storm was casually building in the distance," and "it went from glass to about 40 knots in two minutes,” he said. “It was like a big dust storm under a thunderhead, there was a lot of lightning but not a lot of rain.”

A meteorologist said the storm was dumping huge amounts of sand it had picked up while passing the coastal town of Onslow in Western Australia. Meanwhile, 60-mph winds are expected in coastal areas and level-4 tropical cyclone Narelle is threatening to land in in the west, the Herald Sun reports. On the bright side, firefighters in the south-east have taken advantage of cooler conditions and contained all but 17 of the 120 wildfires there, reports the Newcastle Herald. The bad news: That region is expected to heat up again, reaching temperatures of around 109 Fahrenheit.