At least one person was killed and 20 others injured as an intense dust storm hit the metropolis Sunday night and continued Monday morning dispersing sand around the city, downing trees and blowing away roofs in some areas. The sudden dust storm came with howling gales and hampered visibility on numerous major roads. The wind was so strong that it ripped off tin walls and knocked out power cables in some localities, cutting off electricity.
Strong winds with dust continued to gush on Monday morning with light rain in some areas, including Orangi Town and II Chundrigar Road.
Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) Director Sardar Sarfaraz said, “Last night’s dust storm was stronger than expected. Winds blew at a speed of 65km/h and reduced the visibility to 500 metres.”
“A western wind system is present is the city and winds are expected to blow at high speeds today as well,” he added. “The western wind system will leave from the city by tomorrow evening.”
The PMD director further said that light rain is expected in the city during the day while rain with thunder is expected tonight and tomorrow. “Moderate rain with thunder is expected tonight and tomorrow morning in Karachi,” he said.
Some flights from Jinnah International Airport were cancelled or delated last night owing to the dust storm.
Sandstorms can rapidly change the appearance of an area with the shifting and re-forming of dunes by the wind. Dust storms in arid regions can be formed when small, light dust particles are blown in to the air, often lifted by the strong winds at the leading edge of a cold front. In some drought prone areas, a ‘dustbowl’ effect can be caused by prolonged drought over a long period because of persistent failure of the rains, and often exacerbated by overgrazing.
One of the things about dust storms that worries people today is the effects that they can have on their everyday lives. Even though dust storms may not be prevalent in your area, or my own for that matter, they are a very real problem for the people who live in areas that are commonly affected by these storms. Dust storms can have a devastating effect on agriculture, crops and livestock, commerce, the health and general wellbeing of the people in the affected area, and even on Mother Nature herself.
From soft to heavy and severe, dust storms have a significant impact on our health—especially for children, the elderly and people with asthma—so it is important to be prepared. Short-term exposure to very high concentrations of dust and particles during a sandstorm can be harmful but long-term exposure to high concentrations might be even worse. So don’t wait for a sandstorm to take action to reduce the concentration of particles inside your homes.
- Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed.
- Air conditioned environments can provide protection. If you have an air conditioner at home, turn it on and, if applicable, use them in a recirculate mode.
- Avoid outdoor activity. If you must go outside spend as little time outside as possible.
- Avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or a breathing related condition.
- If you are an asthmatic or have a respiratory condition and you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, or chest pain, follow your prescribed treatment plan. Continue to use your usual medication.
- Seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen.
- Dust storms may reduce visibility. Extra caution should be taken when driving to avoid the risk of collisions.
- If your car is air-conditioned, reduce the amount of dust entering your car by switching the air intake to ‘recirculate’.