Weather warning for asthma sufferers as large dust storm to sweep across UAE

UAE Weather: High winds will kick up a large dust storm this weekend reducing visibility, as weather experts advise people who suffer dust allergies to wear masks or stay indoors.

DUBAI // The weather bureau has warned residents that high winds will wreak havoc this weekend, whipping up a dust storm, bringing temperatures of up to 40°C and rain in the interior.

“Winds at a speed of 35 to 45kph are expected to blow from the south desert over the Empty Quarter to the western side of the UAE,” said a spokesman for the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology. “The high speeds will raise up sands and the visibility will reduce to up to a kilometre. We advise people who have asthma to take care of themselves by wearing masks or staying at home.”

Dr Roshan John, an internal medicine specialist at Lifeline Hospital Abu Dhabi, said such weather was responsible for bringing in roughly 20 per cent more patients with upper respiratory issues.

“We get a lot of cases of conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis and allergic rhinitis,” said Dr John, who added the increase has occurred in the past month.

The number of asthmatics coming into the hospital has also risen between 5 and 10 per cent, he said.

At-risk people should stay indoors as much as possible and avoid strenuous exercise.

“These sandstorms contain two types of particle – one is coarse and the other is fine. It’s mostly the fine ones that cause trouble for people with asthma,” Dr John said.

“It’s better to be in an air-conditioned environment with the windows and doors firmly closed. The other thing is that people who have normal asthma medication, like inhalers, need to continue them as they were prescribed.”

If people experience breathing difficulties, such as shortness of breath or a severe cough, they should go to hospital, he said.

The NCMS said visibility, which is normally up to 10 kilometres, will drop in the Western Region this morning but it is expected to gradually clear during the day.

“The fine particles suspended in the air will need time to settle,” the spokesman said.

The weather will remain unstable for the next two days and the dry, hot wind could force the temperature to exceed the 40s in some regions, the NCMS said.

The pressure systems will cause cloud formation in the north and over the interior, and rain is expected to fall by Saturday evening and early Sunday morning.

“[Friday] will be a partly cloudy day throughout the country. There are chances of rain over the northern and eastern parts, and the interior areas of the UAE,” the NCMS said.

The sea will be "moderate to rough" and residents should take caution on the water.