Dust Storm in Saudi Arabia
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Dust Storm in Saudi Arabia

February 10, 2012
Strong sand and dust storms blew across Saudi Arabia in early February 2012, at times disrupting daily life and bringing blinding conditions to the region. On February 1, ArabNews.com reported that a massive dust storm had disrupted road traffic and closed schools in the city of Jeddah. Civil defense units were called into action to respond to several automobile accidents and downed trees.

Unsettled weather is typical in Saudi Arabia in February, with strong winter winds a frequent occurrence. These winter Shamals (strong northwesterly winds which blow over the Persian Gulf states), is association with a strengthening high pressure system over the peninsula in combination with a deep trough of low pressure east of the Persian Gulf. This pressure gradient results in strong northerly winds blowing over the Gulf, sometimes for extended periods.

According to the Emirates Weather Portal, a low pressure system has persisted over northern Arabia since the beginning of February, driving windy and dusty conditions in the region. It was also reported that a particularly strong storm formed on February 2, blowing dust and sand across southern Saudi Arabia.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a true-color image of this storm on February 3, 2012. In this image, a layer of dust obscures the land of southern Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen, with some patches of desert dust extending over the Red Sea to the west, and the Gulf of Aden in the south.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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