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Mon 21 Oct 2013 06:38 PM

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Dubai launches first sandstorm forecaster

Device to use weather predictions and satellite imagery to warn public of sandstorms

Dubai launches first sandstorm forecaster
It was slow going on the roads as the high winds and sand in air reduced visibility.

Suddenly being hit by a sharp gust of sand will soon be a thing of the past after Dubai’s first sandstorm forecaster was launched on Monday.

The device will allow authorities to issue warnings and include sandstorms in weather updates.

Developed by Dubai Municipality and Unique System FZE, part of the Maritime Group a leading global integrated turnkey subsea and offshore solution provider, it is based on the same 3D weather prediction model already being used in the emirate but will integrate information from sand source areas and use wind predictions to gauge where the sand will settle.

“It will be verified against geostationary and polar orbiting satellites, lidar and aerodrome reports. Dust storm system will also present real-time satellite images because they can display a coming dust storm quite accurately,” head of Dubai Municipality’s Geodesy and Hydrographic Survey Section, Eman Ahmed Al Khatibi Al Falasi, said.

“First results of the dust storm prediction system are very promising and indicate that system will help prepare the public for dust storm events.”

Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are the main sources of dust affecting the UAE, although there also are some source areas in Pakistan and the UAE itself.

The region is entering dust storm season, when strong winds are more likely to occur, although recent rainfall has helped to alleviate potential sandstorms, according to Dubai Municipality Geodesy and Hydrographic Survey Section.

Director of the department Mohammed Mahmoud Mashroom said the forecaster would help the public to prepare for a sandstorm.

“While sandstorms are of natural occurrence, they can pose a great problem for human societies living near the desert regions,” he said.

“[The] Arabian Peninsula experiences more frequent sand storms as compared to the other regions. Therefore, Dubai Municipality started the sandstorm prediction project.

“It will be an extension to the existing Dubai Municipality's fog monitoring and forecasting system which has run at Dubai Municipality since 2010.

“We are very proud with the results of this project which is useful to the whole nation and for the people living here.”

Unique System FZE general manager Ian Huggins said the innovative project would help create a safer and more secure environment.

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