x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sandstorms lash UAE

Strong winds whip up sand and debris across the Emirates ripping down billboards and trees and causing havoc on the roads.

Sandstorms hit the UAE this afternoon tearing down billboards and uprooting trees with winds gusting at more than 111kph.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a billboard fall on a car in Sheikh Zayed road near the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The storm which lasted more than an hour reached a maximum of 111kph in some areas of the emirate.

“The thunderstorm formed offshore Dubai, in the middle of the Southern Arabian Gulf and moved quickly to the East,” said a duty forecaster at the Dubai Meteorological office. “It hit the northern emirates, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Ras al Khaimah and caused rain in some of those areas.”

Residents in Ras al Khaimah also reported heavy winds and rain. On highway E65 heading south towards Liwa, the sandstorm reduced visibility to about 20 metres and covered the road with sand, said an eyewitness.

A Dubai police source said that no serious accidents or deaths had been reported.

bqabbani@thenational.ae