Browsing 'dust' News

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With strong winds and more swirling dust and sand forecast over the weekend, doctors in Qatar are urging residents to take steps to protect their health.

In a post on Facebook yesterday, Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) said dust particles like the ones floating in Qatar’s air can be particularly harmful to the respiratory system.

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They could also make things worse for people with sinus allergies and respiratory infections, HMC said.

It added:

“Those most at risk of contracting respiratory infections, including infants and young children, the elderly, people with a history of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, individuals with heart disease, pregnant women and those who work outdoors, such as construction or delivery workers, are advised to be particularly cautious.”

Advice

To stay safe, HMC offered these tips:

  • Avoid going outside when winds are high or if there is low visibility, which is when dust levels can be particularly harmful.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • When outside, cover nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to decrease the amount of dust particles you inhale.
  • When driving, keep car windows closed, and opt for air conditioning instead.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. If possible, use protective eyewear such as airtight goggles. If your eyes become irritated, rinse with water. Be especially careful if you wear contact lenses.
  • Start using antihistamines before symptoms begin if you are prone to bad allergies.

Weather report

According to the Qatar Meteorology Department (MET), windspeeds will hit a peak of 48 knots (89km/hour) inshore today.

This will cause low visibility in most areas due to blowing dust.

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The wind will gradually start calming down on Saturday, but the all-clear to go into the sea won’t be until at least Monday.

Temps will remain in the low 40s, which is average for this time of year, forecasters added.

How have you been coping with the weather? Thoughts?

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Another sandstorm is set to cover Qatar, with “strong dust” and winds of up to 38 knots (70kph) forecast from today, July 6, until at least Wednesday.

Qatar Meteorology Department has issued a weather warning today for “low horizontal visibility” as dust and high winds are expected across the country.

Northwesterly winds will be between 18-28 knots, rising to 38 knots in some parts of the country, although they will drop to 10-17 knots by night.

In a statement issued in Arabic this morning on Twitter, the MET cautioned motorists to take extra care on the roads, due to blowing sand:

The poor visibility, dust and winds are forecast to continue through much of the rest of the week. The MET previously warned that, starting today, the windspeed would pick up from fresh to strong and prevail throughout the week due to the effects of the Indian monsoon.

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Temperatures this week are expected to reach a high of 43-44C (111F) by day in Doha, with humidity rising to 65 percent in some parts of the country.

According to Steff Gaulter, senior meteorologist for Al Jazeera English, high humidity usually settles over Doha from the middle of July until around mid-September.

However, she told Doha News it is also common to have short periods of very humid conditions before then, depending on the wind direction. Winds that come from the East usually bring with them humidity, while Northwesterly winds from Kuwait and Saudi are more often dry.

On dusty days such as the ones we’re seeing lately, the water droplets can condense onto the dust, making the air seem hazier than usual, she added.

Hotter summer

And residents should prepare themselves for a summer that’s set to be hotter than usual. According to the MET’s longer-range forecast, temperatures in Qatar and across the Gulf are expected to be higher than normal for July, August and into September.

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Earlier this year, the MET predicted hotter temperatures for longer than normal this year, due to the climate pattern known as El Niño.

This phenomenon describes a change in trade winds across the Pacific Ocean that accompany increases in sea temperature, which can lead to extreme weather conditions across the globe.

In addition to heating up the Gulf, the fluctuations in sea temperature and wind speeds could cause droughts in Australia and Indonesia.

The effects also extend to the Americas, which could see heavy rains and flooding.

In an advisory published in May this year, the US government’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) put the likelihood of El Niño’s return at around 90 percent.

Thoughts?

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The Qatar Meteorology Department (MET) is advising residents to take care today as another wave of wind and dust is expected to inundate the country this afternoon.

According to forecasters, strong northwesterly winds will cause horizontal visibility to fall to less than 2km due to blowing sand and dusty conditions.

The MET added that the windy weather will persist until tomorrow.

Health concerns

Qatar has been hit with several sandstorms over the past few weeks, as the nation transitions from the cooler weather to the hotter months.

Dust masks

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Dust masks

Earlier this month, the inclement conditions caused school and flight cancellations, decreased visibility on the roads and health problems for many residents, particularly those with asthma or other breathing issues.

During dust storms, health officials here advise residents to stay indoors as much as possible, to drive with their windows closed, avoid rubbing their eyes to prevent infections and carry a supply of water to keep from being dehydrated.

Since children are especially vulnerable, parents should cover their kids’ mouths and noses while outside, to avoid reducing inhalation of dust particles.

What are you seeing in your part of town? Thoughts?