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Stormed by the dust

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Known as Ghubar in the local language, the dust storm has become a regular feature in the Sultanate of Oman. Ghubar triggers mainly with the northwesterly wind.

The journey during a dust storm can be long and tiresome for the people in the regions it passes through.

Winds that cause dust rising bring sand to the roads in some areas. People in Al Buraimi have complained of living with dust in the air for a while. Through the satellite images, the spread of dust could be seen in different parts of the Sultanate of Oman this week.

The Shamal wind (northwesterly winds) is a distinct feature of the weather system in the region, blowing across Iraq, Iran and the whole of the Arabian Peninsula, and in recent days, it has been at play churning out dust storms.

The Science Direct, in its article titled, ‘Dust Storms in the Middle East,’ stated, “The seasonality of dust storms can be related to the generating meteorological processes. The main season of occurrence for most of the area is spring or summer. The dust haze experienced off the southeastern Arabian coast from June to August is related to a large scale dust flow that is thought to originate over the Horn of Africa and is part of the southwest monsoon circulation.”

While some debate if the frequency of this particular weather condition has gone higher, the elders in the community used to say rains usually follow the dust storm.

At the practical level, lifestyle can be impacted in many ways. One person who was to travel to Musandam said he had to postpone his trip because the authorities told him to come back tomorrow as the flight was cancelled due to the dust storm. The horizontal visibility is often affected, making motorists extremely cautious on the road.

The current dust storm was moving south to Yemen. On Wednesday, it was still having an impact on Khasab, Adam and Ibri, said the weather expert at Oman Met Office, The National Early Multi Hazard Warning Centre of Civil Aviation Authority.

“Khasab had recorded 1,500 metres in horizontal visibility. What we mainly have in our atmosphere is haze. It all depends on the wind. Currently, the satellite images show the wind is pushing the dust towards the south of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yemen,” she said.

This current journey of the dust storm began in Iraq, which resulted even in the cancellation of flights, then moved on to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar and, of course, the Sultanate of Oman.

“The dust particles are stuck in the upper level of the atmosphere,” she explained. “But it should clear out by Wednesday evening,” she added.

It has not been easy for many countries; there have been many incidents of respiration issues and hospitalisation in other countries. According to health experts, dust storms can be of major concern for individuals who suffer from asthma and seasonal allergies. Wearing a mask is extremely important during dust storms and is considered one of the safety measures. What is also important is complete cleaning off the dust after the storm has passed through.

In most cases, the direct impact of the dust rising winds is desert and open areas, which is why Adam and Ibri tend to be on the receiving end.

As the dust clears out, mainly clear skies are expected over most of the governorates in Oman with the existence of dust aerosols and chances of late night to early morning low-level clouds or fog patches over parts of South Al Sharqiyah and Al Wusta governorates.

Along with the coastal areas of the Arabian Sea, the wind will be southerly to southwesterly, moderate to fresh and along the coastal areas of the Oman sea, winds will be northeasterly light to moderate during the day, becoming variable light at night while over the rest of the governorates it will be northwesterly light to moderate.

The sea state is expected to be moderate along the coastal areas of the Arabian Sea and the western coast of Musandam Governorate with a maximum wave height of 2.0 metres and slight along the rest of the coasts with a maximum wave height of 1.0 metres.

Weather experts continue to alert the public to the fact horizontal visibility may reduce due to two factors — dust aerosols and fog formation.

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