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Continent-sized sandstorm

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March 21 2012 sandstorm over the Arabian Peninsula, Arabian Sea and India

Mumbai woke up to strange weather on March 22, 2012. TOI reported:

Mumbaikars woke up on Wednesday to a thick layer of dust that had enveloped the city reducing visibility levels to six times lower than normal and increasing pollution levels by nearly 500%. But the dusty haze, as the MET has called this phenomenon-it was more pronounced in north India-is not benign, and doctors spent the better part of the day fielding calls from citizens who complained of breathlessness. Because of the haze, suspended particulate matter (SPM) levels rose from 200 units per cubic meter to 1,200 units, reported the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). Dr Ajay Deshpande, joint director of MPCB, described the SPM levels as “a historic rise” , never before witnessed in the city.

Though weather officials say the haze is a temporary 24-hour phenomenon, the particulate matter will take a longer time to dissipate, and doctors have advised patients susceptible to respiratory ailments to take extra precautions.

The storm has been brewing for a while. Eurasia Review had a report:

ESA’s Envisat satellite has captured images of a sandstorm over Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and southern Iraq and Iran.

The animation shows two cloud-free images of the region: the first captured on 10 March and the second on 18 March.

The latest image shows how sand has swept over the Persian Gulf States in recent days, extending some 1500 km north to south.

Over the past few days, strong winds have whipped up dust and sand, causing low visibility and grounding flights across the region.

In some areas of Saudi Arabia, schools have been closed and hundreds of people are suffering from respiratory problems. The storm has also caused a sharp decline in temperatures.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

March 22, 2012 at 3:41 pm

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