People, Environment

Dust Storms Thrash Tehran, Alborz

Dust Storms Thrash Tehran, AlborzDust Storms Thrash Tehran, Alborz

Mammoth dust storms rolled through the provinces of Alborz and Tehran late Monday, reducing visibility, breaking windows, bringing down trees and causing power outages in some regions.

Winds picked up just before 9 p.m., reaching speeds of 70 km per hour in western Tehran and Alborz, news websites reported.

The winds subsided after about two hours, leaving thick layers of dust and sand on most surfaces, including cars.

At the peak of the storms, people were warned to stay indoors or seek shelter, Mehr News Agency reported.

Dust storms have increased in both frequency and severity in recent years. Whereas previously only western and southwestern provinces grappled with the phenomenon, dust storms have affected 22 provinces, with no signs of letting up.

Officials say only 5% of dust particles found in storms originate from domestic sources and the rest rise from outside Iranian borders.

However, as the Persian website Khabar Online reports, Monday’s storms originated from sources in Tehran and Alborz. Perpetual drought and loss of vegetation have turned lush plains and fertile farmlands in southern and western Tehran Province into barren landscapes that are at the mercy of winds.

American media company AccuWeather, which provides commercial weather forecasting services worldwide, had predicted cloudy skies and thunderstorms for Tehran. One cannot help but wonder if an organization half a world away is able to predict thunderstorms in Tehran, why were domestic organizations unable to forecast dust storms closer to home.