Today is dust day in Riyadh.
Imagine a day when you get up, and the world is shrouded in fog. Visibility is down to 1/4 mile, maybe 1/8 mile in some places. Imagine that the huge building located only about a mile away – the really imposing one that hogs the horizon for miles – is completely hidden.
If you can imagine that, then you can visualize what it is like today.
I went to Carrefour, the French version of Wal-Mart that occupies a large section of Granada mall on Riyadh’s northern side, and people on the streets and in the parking lot were walking around with masks over their noses and faces. Cars are covered with a layer of dust reminiscent of a dusting of snow on cars during winter. The haze is so thick it’s visible between the buildings and down the street toward the front gate. Last April, I wrote about a massive dust storm violently enhanced by a dramatic electrical storm. This dust storm is just as massive, but without the lightning and thunder…at least, so far.
This is not the worst dust storm I’ve ever seen. No, the one that covered the State of New Mexico in 2003 wins that award – followed closely by one in Texas back in 1973. The one in New Mexico, witnessed by my wife and niece, would be very difficult to top. Visibility literally was down to one hundred yards or so, and the wind was blowing steadily in the 40mph – 60mph range. That was truly the mother of all dust storms that I have witnessed personally.
I’ll go out when I finish this entry and see if I can get some pictures, which I will contrast with some I’ll take on a clear day. In particular, I want to get a photo of how obscure the SABIC building is in comparison to what it looks like on a clear day. That’s the massively imposing building to which I referred earlier.
So, it’ll be a day of indoor activity augmented by sinus medicine and a lot of water. Guess it’s a good time to clean the apartment. Yeah. Right.