A thick layer of dust blanketed Baghdad today. The sky turned an ominous orange as sand from the surrounding desert blew into the Iraqi capital. The dust cover that enveloped Baghdad is not unusual. Baghdad is shielded from the desert by a thin strip of arable land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Baghdad lies in the center of Iraq along the Tigris river. To the south of Iraq is the great Arabian desert, a source of heat and dust.
As per NASA observatory, a storm with characteristics of both the shamal and the haboob is moving across Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf region. The storm appears to have been triggered by a surface low-pressure system that’s moving from northwest to southeast during the week.
Dust and sand storms in the Middle East tend to come in two forms. Haboobs are dramatic events associated with storm fronts and often appear as walls of sand and dust marching across the landscape. But like thunderstorms, haboobs tend to abrupt and short-lived. Then there are the long-lived, wide-reaching dust storms that can last for days. In Iraq, such storms are often associated with the shamal, a pattern of persistent northwesterly winds.