A haze of dust has blanketed much of the southwest this morning.
A haze of dust has blanketed much of the southwest this morning.

Southwest wakes to dusty conditions

A DUSTY morning greeted the southwest as residents woke today, with prevailing conditions bringing a haze to much of rural Queensland.

Forecasters are expecting the dust will hang around for most of Wednesday, but settle overnight, based on predictions for the current weather system carrying it.

“We had some northerly winds across the region, and then we saw a frontal feature move in to the southwest yesterday, and just slowly move eastwards yesterday evening, then overnight going through the Darling Downs region,” Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Vince Rollins said.

“It is starting to push into the southeast district at the moment, and the winds have swung round to the southwest and produces that dust.”

While the system is now heading eastwards, it is important to note the sheer size of the dust cloud.

“It is covering quite a large area: extending right from the Darling Downs district, through the south and central west, and up in to the northwest towards Mt Isa,” Mr Rollins said.

“The dust has been pushed through the south and western parts of Queensland, just behind that frontal feature that moved through overnight and this morning.”

In light of the dusty conditions, the South West Hospital and Health Service is advising people to take precautions, particularly if they have existing respiratory issues.

“Southwest residents with respiratory conditions need to be cautious over the next few days with a dust haze currently affecting large parts of the region,” Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Tim Smart said.

“Dusty conditions can be trying for everyone, but they are especially difficult for people with pre-existing conditions.

“People with respiratory issues should stay indoors with windows and doors closed, follow any medical plan they have been provided by their doctor, such as an asthma management plan, and avoid vigorous exercise.

“If you are experiencing any adverse reactions to the dust or smoky conditions due to any fires – such as shortness of breath, prolonged coughing or wheezing, seek medical advice or ring triple-0 (000) in an emergency.”

Dr Smart’s top tips are:

  • Airconditioned environments can provide protection; if you have an air conditioner at home, turn it on and if applicable, us them in a reticulate mode.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise outside, especially if you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or a breathing related condition.
  • If you are an asthmatic or have a respiratory condition and you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, or chest pain, follow your prescribed treatment plan. Continue to use your usual medication.
  • Seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen.