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Severe sandstorm hits Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

severe-sandstorm-hits-jeddah-saudi-arabia

A severe sandstorm hit the coastal city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, March 26 and continued into March 27.

Strong southerly winds blew at the speed of 50 to 60 km/h (31 to 37 mph) seriously reducing visibility, slowing down traffic and forcing flight cancellations.

Weather forecaster from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME), Mohammed Al-Amrai, told Arab news that this marks the beginning of the summer season and the storm will continue for two to three days.

Al-Amrai said the unstable weather reduced visibility to 2 km (1.24 miles) in regions around Tabuk, Madinah, Makkah and coastal areas of Jeddah with 25% humidity, 27 °C (80.6 °F) minimum temperature and 37 °C (98.6 °F) maximum.

He ruled out rain in Jeddah in the coming days but said there are chances of medium to heavy rains with thunderstorms in Al-Jauf, Northern Borders Region, Hail, Qassim, Tabuk, western parts of Riyadh and northern parts of the eastern region. 

Update, March 28:

According to Arab news, the severe sandstorm that hit Jeddah on March 27 resulted in the death of two people in a road accident caused by poor visibility, closure of schools and rescheduling of flights.

"The city was literally blanketed by dust for a better part of the day with winds moving menacingly at 60 km/h (37 mph), sharply bringing down visibility while uprooting trees in some areas," their report said.

"The Jeddah Civil Defense received 20 calls. They were due to incidents related to falling of metals, scaffoldings, marbles, palm and other trees, as well as light posts and unregistered buildings,” said Col. Saeed Sarhan, spokesman of the Civil Defense in Makkah.

Mohammed Khan, the weather forecaster for the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment, said the weather turned dusty with winds between 30 km and 60 km/h (18.6 and 37 mph), bringing down visibility to just about 1 km (0.62 miles). 

Weather fluctuations are expected to continue until Tuesday, March 29.

Featured image: Sandstorm hits Jeddah on March 26, 2016. Credit: Arab News

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