Flight delays at Qatar’s Hamad Airport multiply after sandstorm (updated)

Crowd at Hamad International Airport

Supplied

Crowd at Hamad International Airport

Following one of Qatar’s worst sandstorms in years, passengers who were supposed to board several flights scheduled to take off in the middle of the night from Hamad International Airport appear to still be stuck in the terminal with no revised departure times.

This includes the midnight KLM flight to Amsterdam, the 1:35am Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and the 1:35am Qatar Airways/Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.

Many other flights departed HIA this morning after a few hours of delays.

For example, a Qatar Airways flight to Colombo in Sri Lanka was delayed by more than three hours, finally taking off at 4:30am, instead of its scheduled 12:55am.

And a Fly Dubai flight to Dubai which was due to leave Doha at 3:10am was actually canceled.

Speaking to Doha News, an airport representative said that most flights would be flying on schedule for the rest of the morning, but advised passengers due to travel today to check with their airline for the latest status update.

However, according to HIA’s website, delays out of the airport are piling up. Arrivals from elsewhere are also seeing delays – for example, a Qatar Airways flight from Dammam that was due to land at 5:10am is now not expected until 12:19pm.

For its part, the national carrier (and airport operator) has recommended passengers check the status of their flights online:

Schools closed

Citing “extreme weather conditions,” Qatar’s Supreme Education Council decided that private and public schools would remain shut today.

Several universities are also closed, including Northwestern University in Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. The College of the North Atlantic Qatar has also announced it would be shut.

Notably, Qatar University remained opened, much to the frustration of many students:

https://twitter.com/ShaimaSherif/status/583524283596439552

The weather is a result of a high pressure front from Saudi Arabia, which has also shut many of its schools in certain parts of the country, Arab News reports.

Weather forecast

According to the Qatar Meteorology Department (MET), wind speeds here are forecast to reach as high as 35 knots inshore (65km/hour) and 38 knots (70km/hour) offshore.

Last night's sandstorm

Mohamad Alodaima/Flickr

Last night\’s sandstorm

Dusty conditions are expected to prevail through Friday, though the worst of this sandstorm should be over by lunchtime, says Steff Gaulter, senior meteorologist at Al Jazeera English:

For those reporting to work today, the Ministry of Interior has warned of almost zero visibility on the roads, and reminded people to please refrain from using their hazard lights:

Here’s a roundup of what people are experiencing around town:

Are you venturing out today? Thoughts?

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