Israel braces for dusty air, power breaks as sandstorm blows in

Israel braces for dusty air, power breaks as sandstorm blows in

Health services recommend people stay indoors, athletes avoid training; Jordanian plane forced to make emergency landing in Tel Aviv

The Tel Aviv beach seen as a sand storm hit Israel on September 08, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASh90)
The Tel Aviv beach seen as a sand storm hit Israel on September 08, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASh90)

Israel was girding Tuesday for a sandstorm that was expected to last at least 24 hours, blanketing the country with dust and bringing warnings of bad air and possible power outages.

According to the Israeli Meteorological Service, strong eastern winds are blowing from the north of Saudi Arabia and are raising huge brown clouds of dust toward Israel.

From Tuesday afternoon, the storms were also likely to include lightning. Inclement weather is expected to continue overnight Tuesday and on Wednesday, especially in northern Israel, before giving way to storms and rain showers at the end of the week.

The Magen David Adom emergency health service said in a statement that people suffering from breathing problems should stay inside buildings with closed windows and avoid strained activity outside.

MDA extended its recommendation to pregnant women, the elderly, those suffering from chronic heart and lung conditions. It also recommended that athletes avoid training outside for the next day.

The Israel Electric Corporation announced that it was preparing for the possibility of “failures in the power network” due to “sandstorms, dust clouds and clouds and lightning storms.”

The company said the combination of dust and rain may result in sporadic power outages “and is preparing appropriately.”

The IEC is under fire for its slow response to massive blackouts that struck Israel in the beginning of last week.

Aside from the sand, the winds also brought a plane that made an emergency landing in Tel Aviv.

Earlier on Tuesday, a plane that took off from Dubai and was scheduled to land in Amman was diverted from its route and made an emergency landing at Ben Gurion Airport.

The Royal Jordanian Airbus 320 found itself on the Ben-Gurion tarmac after it was diverted from Amman due to poor visibility and bad weather.

The official website of Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital showed many of the flights scheduled to land there Tuesday diverted.

“The plane that took off from Dubai could not land in Amman and requested a Tel Aviv landing. Due to reports that it was running out of fuel, we declared a state of emergency. The plane landed safely, refueled, and will return to Amman as soon as possible,” Ben-Gurion said in a statement.

Israel suffered a huge sandstorm in early September that lasted for several days.

According to the Environment Protection Ministry, the storm in September was the worst sandstorm in the history of the country.

Air pollution levels were at their worst in 75 years during the storm, and measured 173 times higher than average in Jerusalem, 51 times higher than average in the Negev, and in the Galilee, 32 times higher than average.

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