The Arabian Peninsula is in the middle of two days of sandstorms brought on by near gale force winds from two opposing directions. Where they meet it will eventually turn thundery.

The familiar Shamal wind often blows down the Gulf during the winter, particularly when the eastern Mediterranean whips up a storm, as has happened in the last few days.

Qatar is exposed to the Shamal, a wind from the northwest quarter, and on Saturday morning, the speed was reported at 56kph.

Visibility in the capital, Doha, was reduced to 1500 metres and the Gulf waters showed the ‘white horses’ of a choppy surface.

At the same time, some 665km to the east, Al Maktoum International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates, was reporting a wind in an almost opposite direction, a southerly, at 43kph and a visibility of only 300m in a sandstorm.

Between the two is a discontinuity in the atmosphere, which you could call a cold front, thrown down from eastern Europe, across the Levant, leaving snow in its wake and dropping the temperature, as a cold front should, by some 10 degrees C.

Riyadh felt the first effects of this cold surge on Wednesday, with a sudden swing and increase in the wind, and the big drop in temperature. A yemperatures of over 30C on Wednesday was replaced by 25C as a maximum for Thursday. By Saturday morning, a regeneration of this zone of weather brought a little rain to the Saudi capital.

After Doha hit 34C on Friday, it will be a struggle to get much above 24C on Saturday as the Shamal cooling remains quite pronounced. In contrast, the wind over the UAE is much warmer and contains more moisture.

When this warm, moist wind, the Kaus, meets the colder, drier wind, the Shamal, it will do so dramatically, and may well bring thunderstorms to Dubai, or Abu Dhabi, or, once again, Ras Al Khaimah on Saturday night or Sunday. Quite possibly all three cities will benefit.

Source: Al Jazeera