Dubai: Dust clouds virtually covered much of the country on Thursday brought by strong winds causing poor visibility in most areas.
Horizontal visibility dropped to 900 metres in Al Dhafra in the western region and to 1,400 metres at Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai. Al Hamra area in Ras Al Khaimah recorded 1, 500 metres, according to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM).
“We are under the effect of a low pressure system and that is what’s causing the southerly flow. The northwesterly wind is affecting the sea. Over land, it is caused by the south-easterly and southwesterly wind systems that are mixing especially during the day because the ground is warm,” an NCM forecaster told Gulf News.
“This weather is normal at this time of the year. The windiest months over the UAE are March, April, May, sometimes, June,” he added.
Dust-packed winds blew at speeds of 20km/h to 35km/h, reaching 45km/h at times.
The Dubai skyline vanished in the haze and traffic slowed down on highways near exposed areas as wind-swept dust made driving a bit tricky.
The strong winds also caused Arabian Gulf to be rough while the Oman Sea was moderate to rough.
Light rain was recorded in the eastern region in Fujairah namely Dibba, Balidia, Dhadna, Al Bidya, Al Bitnah, Sifuni and Khor Fhakkan.
On Friday, the weather will be mostly sunny and winds will not be as strong as on Thursday.
A decrease in temperature is expected across the country on Friday. Dubai’s maximum temperature will drop by four degrees from 40C on Thursday to 36C on Friday only to pick up again to 45C on Saturday. Similar conditions are expected in Sharjah.
The capital’s maximum temperature will drop to 39C on Friday from 42C on Thursday but will also rise to 45C on Saturday.
The dust will settle in most areas on Saturday, with only a few areas predicted to be hazy at times due to south-easterly to north-easterly wind. The country will have fair to partly cloudy skies.
The Arabian Gulf and Oman Sea will be slight to moderate on Friday becoming rough in the morning and moderate in the afternoon and slight to moderate respectively on Saturday.
On Sunday, winds will pick up speed reaching 40km/h at times that could again kick up dust in exposed areas. Motorists are advised to drive with caution in areas with poor visibility.
How to be safe in dusty weather conditions
Abu Dhabi: The weekend’s sandstorms should encourage people to stay indoors as much as possible, especially those who suffer from asthma and other allergic conditions. Otherwise, the ambient dust and other allergens in the air can exacerbate discomfort for patients suffering from allergies, said Dr Nikhil Dinakar Thada, ENT specialist at Universal Hospital in Abu Dhabi.
“Patients can experience itchiness, runny nose, watery eyes, congestion and sneezing when exposed to these allergens. But symptoms can worsen to result in a persistent headache, bacterial infections, sinusitis, and even fever if one is not careful,” he said.
The doctor recommended that the elderly people take extra caution, and that parents take special care of young children, who have comparatively larger adenoids which can become infected and make breathing difficult. It is best for people of all ages to don facial masks when they cannot avoid being outdoors for a prolonged period.
“It is also a good idea to maintain the internal temperature between 22 and 23 degrees Celsius. Many residents lower temperatures further, but this causes respiratory muscles to compensate by increasing in size in order to prevent the entry of too much cold air into the body. In turn, this can make stuffiness and congestion worse,” Dr Thada said.
Avoid being outdoors as much as possible. Put off trips to the beach and parks till the weather clears.
If you go outdoors during a sandstorm, use a facial mask. The nose is the first organ to get irritated when exposed to allergens, and it is best to keep it covered.
Stop children from playing outdoors.
See a doctor if symptoms worsen to include fever, breathing difficulties and wheezing.
Practise steam inhalation to open up the airways and relieve congestion.
Use a saltwater spray to ‘wash’ the respiratory tract. These are available at all pharmacies and can safely be used even for infants.
Get your air conditioning system cleaned to remove dust and allergens.
Maintain internal temperatures at about 22-23 degrees Celsius.