Saturday, January 1, 2011

You're killin' me, Shmalls!

California has mudslides. Oklahoma has tornadoes. New England has the Nor'easter.

Saudi Arabia has sandstorms.

They're not limited to Saudi Arabia, obviously. Just google "sandstorm" and you'll see all kinds of images and amazing YouTube videos from all around the Middle East (and Australia, apparently). But this is my first time regularly experiencing sandstorms, so they're shiny and new and exciting for me. Well, not really shiny. Quite the opposite, actually...


We had our first sandstorm a few weeks ago, but unfortunately I had meetings after work so I couldn't capture pictures of it at its worst. According to the locals and Aramcons, the one a few weeks ago was particularly intense for this early in the season.

I'm not gonna lie, I was slightly disappointed. It was bizarre how quickly the storm descended upon us. You can literally smell it coming. First you notice that the air smells dusty all of a sudden, and then you look out the window to see the dust cloud on the horizon. I was expecting something more dramatic, but so far the storms has just looked like fog.

Another shmall kicked up this morning (that's what the Aramcons call the dust storms. I'm still not sure why). Like last time, I smelled it before I saw it. We left for work and everything was clear and normal. A little overcast, perhaps but not dusty. By the time we had reached work 15 minutes later, the dust had come to town!

It's hard to put it into perspective for you because you don't know what it looks like around here on a normal day. So here's a video from September/October that I took around the same time of day as the pictures below.

Here are pictures of this same view, but taken this afternoon during the dust storm:

This is the light post that gets zoomed in on after about 3 seconds into the video.

There's the bridge to Bahrain.

I'm not sure what this is, even on clear days, but it's sticking out of the water maybe 100 yards off the coast.

There's normally blue water visible just past those trees.

According to everyone at work, this is only the beginning, and these sand storms are amateur compared to what we'll have seen by the end of the season. I'm sure I'll get sick of them eventually, but right now they're an odd new spectacle to marvel at through my camera lens.

Vicariously yours,

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