Sand and rainstorms whipped up by gale-force winds lashed Egypt on Wednesday, forcing five ports on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea to close, officials said.
Authorities in the areas worst hit appealed for people to stay away from trees, billboards and street light poles.
The bad weather forced the closure of schools on Wednesday in the northern city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean and in the provinces of El Buheira and Kafr El Sheikh, north of Cairo. The three regions have been deluged by heavy rainfall.
Officials said the five seaports included the country’s biggest in Alexandria, and Suez on the Red Sea near the southern mouth of the Suez Canal.
"We have closed the port to ensure the safety of staff, property, docks and shipping," said Ahmed Buriqaa, a spokesman for Alexandria port.
The state agency in charge of ports in the Red Sea region said it had ordered all vessels, regardless of size, to stay docked on Wednesday for their safety.
"The sea conditions are unstable with waves ranging in height between 2.5 and 4.0 metres and a visibility of just 2 kilometres," it said.
A sandstorm also engulfed Cairo, where air traffic at the international airport, the country's largest and busiest, was unaffected by the sandstorm and strong winds but officials said workers were advised to take the necessary precautions and observe safety regulations diligently.
The neighbouring provinces of Giza and Qalubiyah were also lashed by the storm, officials said.
There were no immediate reports of death or injury caused by the weather, which was expected to clear by nightfall.