Heavy dust storm envelops parts of the Middle East, turning the sky dark red

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Heavy dust storm engulfed parts of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria on January 19, 2018, turning the sky into dark red. Over the next 72 hours, the dust cloud is expected to sweep Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, but with decreasing concentrations.

Heavy dust storm coming from Syria and Iraq has enveloped Turkey’s southeast on January 19, 2018, reducing visibility and air quality.

The most affected were southeastern provinces of Diyarbakir, of Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Mardin, Şanlıurfa, and Batman, with Mardin the worst affected.

Dust accompanied by muddy rain engulfed the area into darkness, forcing Mardin authorities to give differently-abled, unwell, and pregnant women in public offices a day’s leave from work, according to the Daily Sabah.

The paper reported that shopkeepers had to close their businesses amid lack of customers and parents refrained from sending their children to school as the sky turned red near the Syrian border.

The event also disrupted land and air traffic, canceling flights between Ankara and Mardin.

The storm originated from Syria and Iraq, where dust caused severe problems to millions of people. The worst affected provinces in Syria were those in the Al-Hasakah Governorate.

The storm reduced visibility in Kurdistan Region, Iraq down to 500 m (0.3 miles) in Tuz Khurmatu, 2 km (1.2 miles) in Erbil, 4 km (2.5 miles) in Kirkuk, and 5 km (3.1 miles).

Some of the regions are still seeing heavy dust today, January 20, with the highest dust concentrations this morning in eastern Iraq where visibility dropped to 1.2 km (0.7 miles) in Sulaymaniyah and 1.5 km (0.9 miles) in Basra and especially western Iran, with visibility down to 100 m (328 feet) in Ilam and 300 m (984 feet) in Ahvaz.

The dust cloud is expected to sweep Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan over the next 72 hours, but with decreasing concentrations:

Featured image: Dust storm in southeastern Turkey on January 19, 2018. Credit: Umut Can Oğuz

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