Sand storm

Large sandstorm over Afghanistan and Pakistan

12 August 2002 00:00 UTC

Sand storm
Sand storm

On 12-13 August, a large sandstorm was observed by Meteosat-5 over the Afghanistan and Pakistan desert.

Last Updated

24 May 2022

Published on

12 August 2002

The storm lasted two days, covering an area the size of Ireland. The origin of the sandstorm was located in the Iran-Afghanistan border area, where strong surface winds from the north-west raised huge amounts of sand and dust particles several hundred meters into the air.

Large sandstorm over Afghanistan and Pakistan
Figure 1: Meteosat-5 Visible, 13 August, 09:00 UTC. Red Arrows: ECMWF forecast wind vectors at 850hPa for 13 August, 12:00 UTC

The two images below show the area of interest on two different days: before the sandstorm (left image, 11 August) and during the sandstorm (right image, 13 August). The differences in the reflectivity are clearly visible.

Meteosat-5 Visible, 11 August, 09:00 UTC
Figure 2: Meteosat-5 Visible, 11 August, 09:00 UTC
Meteosat-5 Visible, 13 August, 09:00 UTC
Figure 3: Meteosat-5 Visible, 13 August, 09:00 UTC. Animation from 13 August

The image sequence above (composed of 21 visible images taken between 03:00 and 13:00 UTC) shows the movement the of sand/dust cloud, first in a south-easterly direction, around a mountain range, and then towards the north-east. It probably reached as far as the city of Kandahar. On the southern side of the sandstorm huge eddies can be observed.

The image sequence below (composed of 15 visible images taken between 03:00 and 10:00 UTC) shows the sandstorm on the previous day. A second sandstorm following the Amu Darya river and eventually blowing against the Tajikistan mountains, can be observed in the north-eastern part of the images.

Large sandstorm over Afghanistan and Pakistan
Figure 4: Meteosat-5 Visible, 12 August, 09:00 UTC. Animation