Wide plumes of dust hung over the Arabian Sea and the Horn of Africa in mid-March 2021. The Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image on March 18.
Strong winds have been blowing across the region for more than a week, kicking up massive amounts of dust. The heaviest storm was on March 12, when an intense dust storm covered northern Saudi Arabia, turning the skies red and reducing visibility as the wind knocked over street lights and power poles. Although wind strength had diminished by March 18, large amounts of dust remained in the atmosphere.
The Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa rank among the world’s most prolific dust-producing regions. Dust activity frequently occurs in the springtime, when gusting winds are common in the lowest layer of the atmosphere. This instability makes the lofting of dust particles into the air more likely.