KUWAIT: Cars drive during a dust storm that hit Kuwait yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat,

KUWAIT: A dust storm hit Kuwait yesterday, forcing a number of flights to be diverted to neighboring countries and prompting authorities to issue a warning for motorists, while the official weather forecast predict the bad weather to continue at least through the weekend.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced that five flights at Kuwait International Airport were diverted to neighboring countries due to dusty weather conditions. Landing was affected by low visibility, but takeoff was normal, head of the airport’s air navigation department Emad Al-Sanousi said. He added that the five flights were diverted to Doha and Manama airports. The visibility level dropped to less than 500 meters in some parts of Kuwait, with wind reaching 70 km/h, Sanousi noted.

Indian low pressure

The bad weather conditions were caused by the Indian seasonal low pressure, said official at Kuwait Metrological Center Abdulaziz Al-Qarawi. The low pressure is causing active northwestern winds loaded with dust coming from abroad and within the country. Qarawi added that the sea state would witness waves rising to more than 7 feet. The Meteorological Department has called on citizens and residents to follow the weather bulletin through its web page at http://www.met.gov.kw, to see the latest weather developments.

Caution urged

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has issued severe weather warnings across the country, calling on drivers to take extra precaution due to impaired visibility.  Motorists were encouraged to strictly abide by traffic regulations and should not hesitate to ask for assistance by dialing the emergency number 112.  In the meantime, maritime traffic has also been paralyzed in Kuwaiti ports as a result of the deteriorating weather conditions, Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) announced. Navigation operations have been suspended indefinitely at Shuwaikh, Shuaiba and Doha ports, KPA said in a statement. Meteorologists had earlier predicted heavy dust storms throughout the summer this year due to limited rainfall in the winter. – KUNA