Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Air quality warning as sandstorm set to continue

An air quality app endorsed by Abu Dhabi's environment agency described Sunday morning's weather as an 'airpocalypse'

An intense sandstorm sweeping across the country has prompted a weather warning from an air quality app endorsed by Abu Dhabi’s environment agency.

Describing the air quality in the capital on Sunday morning as an ‘Airpocalypse’, the rating has since dropped to ‘extreme pollution’.

The Plume Air Report app, which monitors air quality in cities around the world and is endorsed by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, displayed an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 382 in Dubai and 370 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

A moderate AQI is 50 to 100, with ratings over 100 considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

For comparison, Beijing on Sunday had 116 AQI and Kuwait had 150 AQI, both of which register as ‘very high.’

Despite the high reading, local forecasters say sandstorms such as this are not unusual for this time of year.

“It is normal, of course,” said a spokesperson from the National Centre of Meteorology. “We are still in the winter season and wherever there is wind, there is dust.”

Temperatures were predicted to drop into the single digits on Sunday on Jebel Jais, the highest mountain the country.

Southeast winds whipped up sand that caused visibility to drop to just over a kilometre in some parts of the country, prompting Abu Dhabi Police to set a maximum speed limit of 80kph for all motorists in the emirate.

No rain is expected during the day on Monday but mariners are advised to exercise extra caution this week and continue to check weather reports, with winds of up to 50 kph expected.

“The sea will remain very rough,” the spokesperson said.

Wind will continue to fill the skies with dust until the end of the week.

“Now we are at the end of the end of winter,” said the spokesperson. “The frequency of rainy weather conditions will be less next month than what we have now. Because we will be into the spring and start to enter summer.”

But April could still bring turbulent weather. According to the Drour calendar, the traditional Gulf almanac, April showers often precede the beginning of the summer season.

So enjoy the rains while you can, it might be a sign that the heat is around the corner.

Updated: March 17, 2019 07:48 PM

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