Sandstorm slams Egypt

Raging dust forces prompt closure of major highways in the south.

Sandstorm hits Aswan
The haboob churned across Aswan, causing the visibility to plummet. [Eshraq Tantawy/AP]

A dust storm has swept across southern Egypt, bringing traffic to a standstill.

The dust dramatically reduced visibility, forcing the closure of several highways in Upper Egypt and in the New Valley, according to the state-owned newspaper al-Ahram.

Known as “haboobs”, these types of dust storms are usually caused by a collapsing thunderstorm.

They may look impressive, but they can be hazardous due to their ability to dramatically reduce visibility in a matter of seconds.

As they sweep across a region, temperature also drops by a few degrees while the winds increase, sometimes gusting up to 100 kilometres per hour.

Able to grow up to one kilometre in height, haboobs typically last a few hours. The stronger ones can travel for more than 150 kilometres.

The thunderstorm which triggered the haboob over Aswan was part of a large system which has been affecting much of the country over the past few days.

The system is now moving across Saudi Arabia, but conditions over Egypt are generally looking rather unsettled over the next few days.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies