An unusually intense sandstorm swept over Egypt this week and peaked on January 16, 2019, severely reducing visibility and air quality. The conditions started improving on January 17. It's unusual to see such severe sandstorms in January, residents said.
The sky over Cairo turned orange as an intense storm with winds over 50 km/h (31 mph) swept over the capital's 19.5 million people.
Authorities urged residents with respiratory problems to stay home and avoid exposure to heavy sandstorm. Several parks and zoos across the city were forced to close its doors, Egypt Today reports.
Several ports were also closed and some flight delays reported.
Some residents voiced surprise at how the sandstorm was lasting for hours while others suggested it was unusual to experience one so severe in January, The National reported.
Strong winds, rain and snow also affected parts of the eastern Mediterranean, from Lebanon to Syria and down to Palestine and Israel.
Jerusalem saw one of its rare winter scenery on January 16, with nearly 5 cm (1.9 inches) of snow.
Featured image: Cairo sandstorm on January 16, 2019. Credit: Joey Shea