The Qatar Meteorological Department has announced that Qatar will see more dust storms this week.

On Sunday 21 June 2015, Qatar saw the first dust storm of the week but it was light and lasted for a short period of time. However, according to the Qatar Meteorological Department, strong dust storms are likely this week.

The maximum temperature should be around 45C and the off shore seas may rise up to 11 feet. The strong wind also reduced humidity across the country.

The Ministry of Interior has warned the public of the dust storms via social media, alerting motorists to drive cautiously. Motorists are cautioned to drive more slowly and to pull over when there is low visibility, particularly when driving in open areas, and to use hazard lights when needed. People living away from the city, where there is no structure or building to break down the dust and reflect the sunlight, are advised to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary.

Qatar has been experiencing several dust storms this year, beginning in April 2015 across the region. On 1 April 2015, the Ambulance Service (AS) recorded a call volume of 634 of which emergency call volume was 480 and non-emergency was 154. Majority of cases where the ambulance was called, were respiratory related conditions aggravated by dust. During the same period, the main Pediatric Emergency Center at Al Saad has received more than 700 urgent cases, including 74 asthmatic patients with 13 admitted for observation. Other PECs in Al Rayyan, Airport, Al Shamal and Al Daayen have received more than 600 patients including 53 asthmatic cases with 14 admitted for observation. Between the onset of the sandstorm, several of the patients seen at the ED presented with eye and ear, nose and throat (ENT) injuries. In addition, more than 300 people have been treated for respiratory related issues, double the usual number.

To avoid health issues, especially at the time of Ramadan, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) advises taking the following precautions during dust storms:

  • Avoid going outside, especially during high winds or low visibility when the dust levels are particularly harmful. If unavoidable, spend as little time outside as possible, and avoid doing outdoor exercise. Keep your windows and doors closed.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce inhalation of particles of dust when going out.
  • When driving, keep the car’s windows closed, and opt for air conditioning instead of fresh air.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes in order to prevent eye infection, which is common during this season. Wear protective gear such as airtight goggles. If your eyes become irritated, rinse with water. Be especially careful if you wear contact lenses.
  • During hot weather, always carry a supply of water to keep from being dehydrated.
  • People who are prone to bad allergies should start using their antihistamines during this season, even before the symptoms start.