Storm Watch

March 2, 2012

As you may know, if you’ve browsed our web site’s “About/Contact” details, SUSRIS is based in a small town in Middle Tennessee. This week our part of the country has witnessed a rash of serious storms that spawned killer tornadoes Wednesday with more to come today. As a result stormy weather is on our minds.

A storm line produced killer tornadoes across Middle Tennessee on February 29, 2012.

This week, half a world away, there were also a series of storms that kicked up swirling sands turning day to night across central and eastern Saudi Arabia. As with the power of a tornado, it is difficult to imagine the scale and impact of phenomena like sandstorms without seeing them – words in a weather report or news summaries of the aftermath do not do them justice.

Today we share with you some stunning photos of this week’s sandstorm that hit Riyadh on February 25, 2012 with a report from Arab News and reminiscences of Riyadh storms from our friend Carol Fleming who blogs at








Arab News – Feb 26, 2012

A heavy sandstorm hit the Saudi capital yesterday, making the city totally dark after 4 p.m. as it swept through neighboring areas.

“Darkness enveloped the main arteries of the capital city such as Qassim, King Fahd, Khurais and Makkah roads because of the storm which started at about 12 noon,” said Benny M. Quiambao, a Filipino building contractor. Drivers slowed down and switched on their hazard lights as visibility dropped to zero, he said.

Earlier, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) had warned that a sandstorm was approaching Riyadh with a one-meter horizontal visibility.

Director General of Health Affairs in Riyadh Dr. Adnan bin Sulaiman Al-Abdulkarim, announced at 3 p.m. yesterday that hospitals under the Ministry of Health were ready to admit dust-hit patients.

Other regions like Qassim and Hail had also been affected. “The sandstorm started at 8:30 in the morning in Qassim, followed by rains at about 12:15 in the afternoon. It stopped at about 3:30 p.m.,” said Arnold G. Pineda, a community leader in Buraidah. He added that by 5:30 p.m. the rains had stopped but the skies remained cloudy.

Edmund Nieto, who works for the STC in Hail, said there was no storm in the area. “However, there were intermittent rains and the skies were cloudy the whole day,” he said.

Murad Al-Sagaf, manufacturing director at a Saudi firm in Buraidah, added that in the northern region, it was cloudy with intermittent rains.

*** – Feb. 29, 2012

It’s ironic to me…the entire time Abdullah (my late husband) and I were in Riyadh there was not a single sandstorm. Yet after we had departed Saudi, there has been at least one or more sandstorms each year thereafter. However I am grateful that we did not have to experience a sandstorm.

I remember when first arriving in Riyadh, Abdullah sharing with me his experiences of sandstorms towards preparing me that they were something I’d have to contend with at some point. He described how he got caught in a sandstorm going home from work one time. He saw the great roll of sand clouds approaching similar to a tidal wave obscuring everything in its path. When the waves of sand engulfed his car the day went dark and he felt the sand whipping around, through and in his car. He removed his smaugh and wrapped it around his face for protection from the sand particles. In spite of his efforts, he felt and tasted the sand as it made its way into the crevices of the car. When he finally arrived at his house rather than enter the house in his now brown thobe, he removed all his clothes rather than drag even more sand into the house.

The windows of his house had splotches of sand sticking to them. In spite of the closed doors and windows and towels which had been placed in front of exterior doors, the sand managed to make its way into the house. The floors, curtains, carpets and furniture had their own frosting of sand. Much cleaning would need to be done.

Abdullah said he went immediately to the shower to get the sand off of his body and out of his hair, nose and eyes. When he finished his shower, his eyes were bloodshot from the sand particles.

The recent sand storm which took place on the 25th of February engulfed our former neighborhood. I can only imagine the clean up whoever now occupies our villa had to undertake. Yes…I’m glad Abdullah and I did not experience a sand storm during our time together in Riyadh.

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