A wave of dust swept across Qatar on Wednesday, resulting in a sharp drop in visibility and prompting the authorities concerned to issue health and traffic advisories.
The dusty spell was particularly severe in the morning, with conditions easing gradually and improving considerably by the evening.
The Qatar Met department issued several posts on its social media channels on Wednesday, advising people to be cautious and providing regular updates on the emerging situation.
A dust wave is “expected to affect by the country soon”, the department tweeted on Wednesday morning, urging people to be careful and follow weather updates.
As the conditions worsened later in the morning, the weather office said visibility had dropped below 1km in most areas due to dust. The situation was expected to “improve gradually during the evening”, it noted.
People wore masks to protect themselves from the dust. PICTURE: Ram Chand
With a marine warning was also in place, offshore observations showed that the wind speed had reached 25 knots and the wave height ranged from 3-7ft.
Then, sometime around noon, the Met department said visibility had started improving gradually (ranging from 2-6km in most areas) and was expected to improve further by the evening.
Later in the evening, it said latest images and observations indicated improved visibility in most regions, ranging from 5-10km.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior stressed in a tweet on Wednesday morning that exercising extra caution was important while driving in adverse weather conditions. “Reduce your speed, keep safe distance and avoid overtaking except in ideal conditions. If visibility is very low, park your vehicle on roadside away from carriage way,” it advised.
On its part, the Ministry of Public (MoPH) health called on citizens and residents, especially asthma patients, people with chest diseases and the elderly to avoid direct exposure to dust during dust waves.
In a statement, the MoPH stressed the need to take preventive measures to avoid health risks that might result from adverse conditions during dust storms, to ensure the closure of doors and windows in a controlled manner to prevent the entry of dust into buildings and houses, and to use wet towels to fill the small openings in the windows or under doors if necessary, as well as cleaning houses from dust after dust waves - especially bedrooms and blankets.
The ministry said people should avoid going out in open areas during windy spells and low visibility, and to repeatedly wash the face, nose and mouth and to wear a protective mask or use wet paper towels to cover the nose and mouth, as well as wearing protective eyeglasses.
The statement also reiterated the importance of motorists to close the windows of vehicles and turn on the airconditioner at an appropriate temperature, if needed.
The MoPH advised people whose job required working in the field to opt for alternate shifts in order to reduce exposure to dust, highlighting the importance of wearing a mask to protect the respiratory system.
The statement also stressed the need for people who have undergone eye or nose surgery recently to avoid exposure to dust.
It pointed to the need to follow advice and guidance to maintain health and safety, especially for children, indicating the readiness of health centres and hospitals to receive patients suffering from any symptoms caused by the dusty weather.
Fog expected to reduce visibility
Meanwhile, poor visibility (2km or less) is expected in some places in the early hours of Thursday due to fog. Similar conditions are likely offshore as well.
Issuing a statement on Twitter, the Met department said relative humidity was expected to increase at night and there was a chance of mist/fog by dawn Thursday.
It will be cold by night and misty conditions are again likely to prevail in some places in the late hours.
The minimum and maximum temperatures in Doha are expected to be 18C and 27C on Thursday. This is similar to Wednesday’s mercury levels in the capital – 19C and 28C, and Met department charts also showed that the maximum temperature around the country was considerably lower than what was experienced on Tuesday.