4/17/15, "Mystery of the dust storms sweeping the world: Experts baffled by spate of 'haboobs' which have brought travel chaos and turned day into night in cities thousands of miles from deserts," UK Daily Mail, Ted Thornhill
"This year has seen a rash of massive dust storms around the world that have led to travel chaos and blocked out sunlight - but experts cannot pinpoint the reason behind the spate.
|NW China, 2015|
This week incredible footage showed the moment an unusual 'apocalyptic' dust storm, known in Arabic as a haboob, struck Belarus, turning day to night, and China has suffered four massive sandstorms since the start of the year.
|NW China, 2015|
Some experts have said that climate change bringing excessive heat can make some areas more susceptible to dust storms, but one European scientist pointed out that the number of dust storms over the decades has always been variable.
The footage of the dust storm in Belarus, filmed from a high rise apartment, shows traffic moving along a busy street in the province of Salihorsk, south of the capital of Minsk on Monday afternoon. As dark clouds move over the city, the entire area is plunged into darkness - forcing motorists to turn on their lights as they navigate the darkened roads.
Dr Steven Godby, a geographer researching the effects of blown sand and dust at Nottingham Trent University, explained how these events can occur.
'The dust is produced from source areas in North Africa, incorporated into a northerly airflow and can travel long distances before being desposited as far away as the UK..
'However, the events we experience are small scale compared to those experienced closer to major dust sources.
And incredible pictures also taken at the beginning of April showed the moment ferocious red sandstorms devoured a city in China's north west.
|Golmud, China, 2015|
China's pollution hit cities are now having to cope with a fresh nuisance - the massive sandstorm that struck the north-west of the country being the fourth this year alone.
The images show the city of Golmud, in the country's north west Qinghai Province, as it succumbs to a sweeping half-hour sandstorm which reduced the visibility to as little as 30 metres, according to The People's Daily Online.
China's National Meteorological Centre (NMC) issued a blue alert for the sandstorms.
The red sand swept across the northern part of the country bringing strong winds and floating sand to the regions of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi.
The organisation advised residents to stay indoors and local authorities to brace for the clean-up operation after the sandstorms.
China's four-tier colour-coded weather warning system signifies red as the most severe followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Photos of the city of Dunhuang in the north-western province of Gansu show the thick orange haze coating the city's atmosphere and the lack of people on the streets gave the area an almost alien planet appearance.
A local meteorologist said visibility was reduced to less than 50metres in downtown areas.
In December a small town in Queensland, Australia, experienced a dust storm that residents said was unprecedented in magnitude.
Clouds of dirt engulfed the town of Bedourie, in Queensland's south-west, bringing with it a thick, dusty night for more than 90 minutes.
The Middle East has also experienced several huge sandstorms this year.
|4/1/15, Saudi, NASA|
This week Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran experienced severe dust storms and last week the Arabian Peninsula was hit by a sandstorm the size of the U.S.
And in February raging sandstorms engulfed Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt causing the worst Israeli air pollution in years and whipping up huge waves in the Mediterranean Sea.
The storm, made up of accumulated dust carried from the far reaches of the Sahara Desert in North Africa also engulfed Cairo.
|4/4/15, Storm stretches to Paki, India, NASA|
Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry said air pollution levels were the country's worst in five years. The sandstorm that engulfed the Arabian Peninsula, meanwhile, wrecked havoc across the area, causing traffic accidents, the cancellation of hundreds of flights and triggering breathing difficulties among residents.
Images showed the vast sandstorm sweeping its way across Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates and reaching as far east as India and Pakistan over a period of seven days.
It began on April 1, when high winds whipped up the sandstorm in northern Saudi Arabia before it consolidated and began moving southeastward across the peninsula to eventually cover an area almost as large as the United States, Discover Magazine reported. Along the way it caused chaos across the area's major cities including Riyadh and Dubai, where some locations were reduced to zero visibility, streets turned a shade of orange and schools were forced shut.
The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies said: 'The blowing sand reduced surface visibility to near zero at some locations, disrupting ground transportation, air traffic, and also closing schools.
'Visibility was reduced to 0.1 mile for several hours at Dubai International Airport, which is one of the world’s busiest in terms of volume of flights.'
More than 450 Saudi Arabian Airlines flights were cancelled between across three days which equalled 33 per cent of the carrier's 1,526 scheduled flights, the Saudi Gazette reported.
On top of this, 678 flights were delayed and another 19 rerouted from airports in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.
Dr Emilio Cuevas-Agulló, director of the Izana Atmospheric Research Center in Tenerife, Spain, told MailOnline that while it was difficult to say if there have been an increase in dust storms generally, population and urban growth in desert regions means an increased risk of people being affected by them.
He said: ‘We are more aware of the problem since we have much better monitoring, mainly from satellites, and forecast systems, in the last five to 10 years, and because the population growth and corresponding infrastructures increase in desert and arid regions, in recent decades, increasing vulnerability to the same dust episodes.’
He added: ‘Our longest dust records over the North Atlantic, downwind from the Sahara desert, which started in late 1970s show a great inter-annual variability and decadal changes, but we don't really see positive trends.’
A Nasa study said: 'Approximately half of the dust in today's atmosphere may be the result of changes to the environment caused by human activity, including agriculture, overgrazing, and the cutting down of forests.'"
Intense red dust storm in Russia "created by a cold front:"
4/1/15, "Epic storm turns day into night in Belarusian city," Russia Today
Soligorsk residents, about 120 kilometers from the capital Minsk, were both scared and excited by the weather phenomenon that hit Belarus on Monday. At around 17:00 local time, darkness descended on the city with over 100,000 residents opting to stay indoors.
People reportedly had to move around several districts with flashlights. The storm’s heavy rains led to electricity being cut off, trees falling down and damage to buildings.
The country’s Emergency Ministry reported about 46 communities in the Minsk region suffered various kinds of damage. The capital city was also hit by storm force winds and torrential rain, but no emergency situations were reported.
The epic storm was created by a cold front on the Ukrainian-Belorusian border that later reached the Carpathian Mountains in an event that is quite rare for this time of the year. Meteorologists called the natural phenomenon a “haboob,” which means an intense red dust storm in Arabic." via Drudge
1. "A raging sand storm sweeps in on the city of Golmud in north west China, where 200,000 people live"
2. "The sandstorm was the fourth to hit the area this year as authorities struggle to deal with the natural hazards"
3. "Blurred: The Shard, one of London's most iconic buildings, is pictured shrouded in 'blood rain' earlier this month," image by Geoff Robinson
4. "Golmud (NW China) was left covered in a remarkable red haze when the sand cloud blew across the city"