WEATHER normally only seen over the parts of the Sahara Desert or in Australia was experienced by residents of the southernmost towns of Namibia when sand and dust “rained” from sky.
Mervin Westley, a resident of Oranjemund, said it was as if the sand rained down on on the town.
“It looked like we were in a cloud of mist and we could not see the sun. The strange thing about it was that there was no wind. The sand and dust just sifted from the sky and everything around us turned this strange orange colour,” he said.
According to Westley shortly after that the east wind started to blow which made the dense dust cloud disappear and caused the temperature climb to about 41 degrees Celsius.
Piet Swiegers, the owner of Klein Aus Vista near Aus, said the dust cloud enveloped the area around the small southern town as well.
“The visibility was very poor. We could not even see the nearby rocky outcrops which is only a few hundred metres away. My father, who has been living and farming in the area since the sixties said he has never seen such dense dust cloud in his life,” Swiegers said.
According to Swiegers the wind died down late in the afternoon and visibility returned to normal.
Chief weather forecaster of the Namibia Meteorological Service, Odillo Kgobetsi, said the dense dust and sand cloud experienced by the residents of the Deep South is a very rare occurrence.
“This kind of weather phenomenon is more common over parts of the Sahara Desert and very rarely occur over southern Africa,” he said.
Kgobetsi explained that the dust and sand is picked up by strong winds elsewhere over the interior of the southern part of Africa and carried high up into the sky. The sand and dust is then deposited as the initial strong wind loses its strength. He compared the phenomenon to a whirlwind but on much larger scale.
In the Sahara Desert dust or sand storms, known locally as simoom or haboob, can carry large amounts of dust, with the leading edge being composed of a wall of thick dust as much as 1.6 kilometres high.
According to Kgobetsi the east wind conditions is expected to continue for the next two days over parts of the coast south of Walvis Bay. He added that the east wind conditions are also expected to move to the central parts of the coast by Friday.