JEDDAH/RIYADH — As a sandstorm and fog blanketed the cities in the morning, the General Presidency for Meteorology and Environmental Protection reported there would be dust storm and fog covering nine provinces in the Kingdom. The dust storm on Sunday was a result of wind traveling at a speed of 55 km per hour, according to a source from the presidency.
“The wind is causing fog in the Northern Borders, Jouf, Tabuk, Madinah, Makkah, Hail, Qassim, Riyadh and the Eastern Province. There is also a chance of thunder clouds and rain on the southwestern heights,” said the source. The source added the public is advised to take caution while on the streets. The week on Sunday began with adverse weather conditions in Kingdom. All major regions in Kingdom have been witnessing strong winds and poor visibility due to storms.
Riyadh Civil Defense spokesman Capt. Mohammad Al-Hammady said he predicts Riyadh will have a foggy weather with thunder rain until next week. “Visibility will be poor. The public is advised to stay indoors and only leave for emergencies. The public is also advised to take extra caution when driving on highways,” said Al-Hammady.
Authorities have suspended classes in some provinces and health and Civil Defense emergency teams have been equipped to deal with the conditions. In Jeddah and other parts of the Makkah region poor visibility and dusty weather began Saturday night and gradually intensified on Sunday.
“We have received over 13 cases mostly respiratory,” said Abdullah Abuzaid of Saudi Red Crescent Authority in Jeddah on Sunday. He expected the number to grow and ambulance teams have been put on the ready.
“We request all citizens and expatriates to be cautious due to bad weather conditions in Jeddah and other parts of the province,” advised Col. Saeed Sarhan, spokesperson of Civil Defense in the province.
He urged people to avoid trees, lampposts and hoardings etc. He added they should not be exposed to dust and asked parents to not to let their children venture outside.
Though the visibility was poor the vehicular traffic passed through Haramain Expressway connecting Madinah and Makkah, one of the busiest highways in Kingdom, without any difficulties.
The holy city of Makkah witnessed a downpour on Sunday morning, according to residents. “After dusty morning there was light to moderate rain that lasted few minutes in the city,” said Mohammed Moqeem, a paramedic in Makkah.
“We have experienced good rain on Saturday along with hailstorm in Buraidah city,” said Mohammed Arif Sayeed, an Indian expatriate living in Qassim told Saudi Gazette over the phone. The weather was normal in Northern Borders and Dawadmi area in Central Province according to residents living there.
Ophthalmology consultant Dr. Yasser Al-Mazroui said patients who have had surgery done to their eyes and patients who wear contact lenses are advised to stay indoors due to the weather.
“Patients who have undergone any surgery to their eyes have very sensitive eyes that must not be exposed to fog and dust. It is very dangerous to have dust in the eyes of a patient who recently had an eye surgery,” said Al-Mazroui.
He added people are advised to wear proper sunglasses and not counterfeit ones to protect their eyes. “If people have any tears coming out of their eyes or any liquids, they are advised to use tissues to wipe their eyes rather than their hands as it may not be sanitized,” said Al-Mazroui.
Pediatrics specialist Dr. Nasr Al-Din Al-Sharif said he advises asthma patients and patients of respiratory diseases to avoid coming in direct contact with dust and residue of rain.
“The weather during the next few days is very unstable. I advise everyone to wear medical masks or use a wet napkin to cover their nostrils against the dust. The hospitals in the Kingdom are ready to receive any emergency cases affected by the weather,” said Al-Sharif.