Sand storm. Source: pxhere

Multiple dust events over the Middle East

17 March 2017 00:00 UTC–20 March 2017 08:00 UTC

Sand storm. Source: pxhere
Sand storm. Source: pxhere

As is quite common during March multiple dust events occurred in this area from 17-20 March 2017.

Last Updated

04 May 2023

Published on

16 March 2017

By Djordje Gencic (HIDMET) and Jochen Kerkmann (EUMETSAT)

A cut-off low that was travelling through this area caused a major dust event over North Africa and Arabian Peninsula. On the Meteosat-8 Dust RGB animation thick low level dust can be observed as a swirl caused by the circulation pattern inside the cyclone (different shades of magenta).

 Meteosat-10 Dust RGB, 17 March 14:00 UTC
Figure 1: Meteosat-10 Dust RGB, 17 March 14:00 UTC

On the second day of the animation, in the southeastern Mediterranean sea, one band of dust north of the cyclone centre was more of a peach colour — indicating dust at higher levels.

This dust was probably lifted up at the front side of the arriving cyclone (and accompanying frontal system) and incorporated into the circulation. This feature could be readily seen if we toggle between Dust RGB and strongly enhanced Natural Colour RGB in Figure 2.

Image comparison

Dust RGB, 18 March 05:00 UTC compare1

Figure 2: Meteosat-8 Natural Colour and Dust RGB imagery showing lifting of the dust.

  Meteosat-10 HRV, 18 Feb 05:15 UTC
Figure 3: Meteosat-10 HRV, 18 February 05:15 UTC

Looking at the HRV image (Figure 3), on the very north side of this upper level dust band, we can notice wavy structures. This probably caused by the breaking of laminar into a turbulent flow. On the other side, south of the cyclone, there are also clearly visible gravitational waves which propagate on top of lower level dust layer.

As the system progressed over the Red Sea towards the Arabian peninsula, over Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries numerous thunderstorm events, sometimes accompanied with hail, were recorded, as seen on this Meteosat-8 infrared image taken over Saudi Arabia at 13:45 UTC.

Also, some dust was lifted on outflow boundaries of these storms as it can be seen in second part of the Dust RGB animation.