[VIDEO] 'Life-Crippling' Sandstorm Blows Across Saudi Arabia, Halting Traffic, Closing Schools
Massive sandstorms swept across Saudia Arabia on Monday and Tuesday, forcing schools to close as traffic slowed to a standstill due to near-zero visibility conditions in the region.
Saudi Arabia's General Directorate of Civil Defense said the sandstorms had severely restricted visibility in parts of Makkah Province as well as in the surrounding regions.
"There is a near-total lack of horizontal visibility all over Jeddah," the National Center for Security Operations tweeted.
The RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service (EDIS) website warned that the storm posed a "significant threat to life or property" in Jeddah, Makkah, Bahra, and Al-Jamoum in Makkah Province.
The Jeddah Islamic Port reported that seagoing traffic had to be halted "due to the increased speed of southeast winds which exceeded 36 knots, and the lack of horizontal vision visibility."
Authorities were advising residents to use extreme caution while driving and when standing near scaffolding, lampposts, trees, and construction work.
The Telegraph reported that "All domestic and international flights to and from Riyadh were cancelled" as a result of the storm.
This satellite image from SaudiWeather.net shows a massive cloud of sand blanketing the region:
According to the Saudi Meteorological Department, the sandstorms are "due to high pressure in the northern and central parts of the Kingdom."
The Education Department announced that schools would remain closed on Wednesday as the storms are expected to continue.
There have been no official reports of death or injury related to this storm thus far.
On Tuesday Saudi authorities had to deny rumors circulating on social media that an airplane had landed on a busy highway as a result of the poor disability. A video posted online appears to show a plane on the Jeddah-Makkah highway in Jeddah, surrounded by moving vehicles.
The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said that the footage being circulated was from a September 2015 sandstorm. It does, however, illustrate how dangerous these weather events can be:
Erem News posted this spectacular video of the of the storm in action with the caption "Life-crippling weather fluctuations in many areas of Saudi Arabia."
These videos from Arabia Weather show the sandstorm from different perspectives: