A dust storm has rolled over Tamworth this afternoon. Pictured is Fred Renata walking down Fitzroy Street. Picture: David Swift.
A dust storm has rolled over Tamworth this afternoon. Pictured is Fred Renata walking down Fitzroy Street. Picture: David Swift.

‘Apocalyptic scenes’: Massive dust storm hits Tamworth

Tamworth has been hit by a massive dust storm which has blanketed the city in brown and red dust right in the middle of the city's annual country music festival.

Music fans began spilling out of the pubs on the main street to take photos of the strange weather phenomenon around 3.30pm.

The Bureau of Meteorology sent out a thunderstorm warning just before the storm hit at 3pm this afternoon predicting thunderstorms and damaging winds.

BOM meteorologist David Wilke said there had been significant thunderstorm activity around Tamworth.

"The strong winds from the thunderstorms can whip up dust fronts," he said.

"It is the same as what we saw a few days ago."

He said wind gusts of more than 100km/hr had been recorded at Tamworth.

He said these gusts were created from a thunderstorm and pushed out ahead of it creating a dust front.

Twitter user Kimberley Nagle tweeted: "Dust storm hitting #Tamworth - a few seconds before this I could see past the row of trees clearly. Constant rolling thunder. Debris blowing around. Fingers crossed some decent rain follows."

Carolyn Cash tweeted: "There is a funny yellow glow in the sky, with some thunder."

The wild weather follows huge dust storms swallowing up large swathes of the Central West slopes and plains on Sunday afternoon.

A severe thunderstorm warning for damaging winds, heavy rain and hailstones was issued for the region by the Bureau of Meteorology around 6:20pm before the dust storms impacted areas including Tottenham, Tullamore, Dubbo and Parkes.

As Tamworth was belted by the storm, the mercury hit 43.7 degrees at Sydney Airport this afternoon.

Mr Wilke said the city was in for a hot night with most regions to hover around 30C until midnight.

"We have got a change that will probably come through in the early hours and doesn't look like it will be really windy," he said.

"It will cool off then but it will be quite a warm night for half of the night."

Tamworth in northern NSW is shrouded in a massive dust storm during Tamworth Counry Music Festival. Picture: Instagram
Tamworth in northern NSW is shrouded in a massive dust storm during Tamworth Counry Music Festival. Picture: Instagram

Usually a sea breeze sees the coast cooler than the west of Sydney but today strong westerlies have kept temperatures hot across the metro area.

At 3pm Sydney had reached 41.3 - the same as Holsworthy in the south west. Penrith had reached 42.4 and the Airport hottest at 43.3.

The conditions have prompted energy operators to ask NSW households and businesses to conserve power as "very high temperatures," bushfire damage to electricity infrastructure and unscheduled coal generation outages have caused an energy shortage.

The Australian Energy Market Operator issued a forecast Lack of Reserve 2 (LOR2) market notice for 2.30pm to 6pm Thursday in NSW.

Visibility is reduced to zero at Tamworth racecourse during the massive dustrom. Picture: Instagram
Visibility is reduced to zero at Tamworth racecourse during the massive dustrom. Picture: Instagram

"The LOR notice signals a reduction in pre-determined electricity reserve levels, and is seeking a response from the market, through either increased generator supply or large industrial/commercial businesses reducing their demand," a statement from AEMO said.

"At 2:30pm today, no impact to consumers is expected with approximately 463 MW of reserves forecast for today's peak-demand period in NSW (2:30pm to 7:30pm).

"However, AEMO will continue to closely monitor the dynamic situation and provide further updates."

Fred Renata walking down Fitzroy Street in Tamworth during the massive dust storm. Picture: David Swift.
Fred Renata walking down Fitzroy Street in Tamworth during the massive dust storm. Picture: David Swift.

To meet NSW consumers' energy requirements and maintain power system security, AEMO has commenced activation with Reliability and Emergency Reserve Trader panel members to secure off-market generation and demand management reserve contracts.

"To help minimise the impact of supply shortfalls this afternoon, consumers can temporarily reduce their energy usage where it is safe and possible, by avoiding running multiple appliances at once, setting air conditioners to 24 degrees, and temporarily switching off pool pumps," the statement said.

"AEMO acknowledges that the health and wellbeing of consumers remains the highest priority, so please only conserve energy if safe to do so."



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