A BLANKET of thick dust which lingered over North Queensland towns this week had blown in to the state from drought stricken New South Wales.
The heavy dust settled over Townsville on Thursday, reducing visibility to 5000 metres.
The mercury hit 39.2C in Townsville on Thursday, well above the February average and the dust added an extra level of discomfort to the oppressive heat.
The dust cloud spanned at least 2000km and had moved north after it was first detected in Toowoomba on Wednesday.
It covered a vast area as far west as Birdsville and settled over flood ravaged north west Queensland.
Bureau of Meteorology meteorologist Harry Clark said it was unusual for the dust to have blown so far north.
"The source was thousands of kilometres away with a strong front from Victoria and New South Wales early this week picked up a lot of dust," Mr Clark said.
"On Wednesday it entered southern Queensland and extended northward due to the wind to the north tropical coast and offshore.
"It is pretty unusual at this time of year, we usually see it more in spring and for it get to Townsville is a little unusual.
"It spanned most of the state from Birdsville to Toowoomba, then up to Rockhampton to Mount Isa and east to Townsville.
"It's been a dusty few days."
The dust started to dissipate in the last 24 hours.