ABC AUSTRALIA, THE BRISBANE TIMES, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Australia)
SUNSHINE COAST- While some spots in the northern hemisphere are covered in snow, the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia has been covered in something that looks a little bit like it - sea foam.
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) January 28, 2013
This phenomenon occurs every few years and is caused by the agitation of seawater (Tropical Cyclone Oswald in this case) especially when it contains higher concentrations of dissolved organic matter. As the seawater is churned by the waves, bubbles are formed and they stick to each other through the surface tension. As the foam has a low density and persistence, the onshore winds can blow it inland from the beaches, according to Wikipedia.
The Brisbane Times reports that Toxicologist, Professor Barry Noller has warned against playing in the foam for fear that it may contain pollutants, toxins and sewage. ABC Australia also writes that Professor Rodger Tomlinson is also warning against it because of "what lies beneath" the foam.
"You don't know whether there are rocks under there, broken glass... so I think there's a real concern about safety.” Among the various videos circulating on YouTube expand=1] (scroll down), there's one of two police officers almost being hit by a car that had suddenly burst out from the foam.
Drinking supplies risk running out in Brisbane, and authorities have asked people to cut back on water usage according to ABC.
These floods, which come just a week after some of the hottest temperatures on record in Australia, which have left four Queenslanders dead and two missing. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 1,200 homes have been damaged.
As the rain continues, flood warnings are in place for 14 rivers in the neighboring state New South Wales, leaving 41,000 people cut off. This morning Sydney received 10 centimeters of water in just 24 hours.
— James Bennett (@James_L_Bennett) January 29, 2013
Video via YouTube expand=1]