Powerful sandstorm and rain strike Abu Dhabi

The wet weather and strong winds felled trees and hampered motorists

A powerful sandstorm struck Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, bringing with it strong winds as well as rain.

Trees were torn from their roots as the weather system swept through the capital, drastically reducing visibility in some areas.

Large quantities of sand was blown across stretches of motorway, adding to the already treacherous driving conditions.

Municipality workers struggled to clear away the debris as a number of accidents were reported. Minor flooding also caused problems for some motorists.

Sandstorms often strike the UAE over the summer months and experts believe their number is likely to rise due to the impact of global warming.

According to the American Thoracic Society, sand particles can be inhaled but are usually too large to be deposited in the lungs and so generally become trapped in the upper airway.

As a result, upper airway and mucus membrane irritation is the most common health issue caused by the storms.

Despite their relatively frequent occurrence in the UAE, the country's location and climate means it is less exposed to the sorts of extreme winds found elsewhere in the region.

Forecasters say most of the sandstorms that reach the Emirates originate in the dried-up marshlands of either Kuwait or Iraq, and that these weather systems usually blow themselves out before reaching the UAE.

Updated: July 23, 2020 04:40 AM