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Freak weather hits Oman’s central desert

Sandstorms and heavy rain affect traffic

Gulf News

Muscat: Parts of Oman’s parched central desert turned into lakes of brown water in the aftermath of freak weather that combined dust squalls with heavy showers over the weekend, various local newspaper reported on Saturday.

Moderate to heavy rain pounded large swathes of the desert heartland of the Sultanate on Friday, hampering traffic along the main Nizwa-Thamrait highway which links the northern and southern halves of the country. There were no reports of any adverse traffic-related incidents, but the Royal Oman Police (ROP) scrambled to place warning signs at key points along the carriageway, as well as boost patrolling for the benefit of motorists heading to and from Salalah, where the popular khareef tourism festival is under way in the south of the country.

On Friday, dust-laden desert winds buffeted villages in the south of Adam district bordering the oil-rich Wusta governorate in the centre of the country. The sandstorm was quickly followed by a downpour that impacted traffic from Adam to Seeh Al Zamayem in the Haima district, the midway point on the main north-south highway.

Outages left a filling station at Ghaba inoperable, resulting in vehicles queuing up for fuel until power was restored some two hours later, reports said.

On Thursday, the coastal district of Mahout was blanketed by a dust storm followed by thundershowers that drenched local villages and towns. The inclement weather brought traffic to a halt along the route linking the North Sharqiya region with Mahout.

According to experts, the freak storms are a spillover from the khareef (monsoon) winds blowing over the southern Dhofar region of the country.