The director of the Remote Sensing Centre at the Meteorological Authority forecast that starting 7 June, a khamasin depression — a dry, hot, sandy local wind often affecting Egypt — will cross over the Western Desert, affecting southwesterly winds on the northwestern coasts and the Western Desert.
Iman Shaker told Al-Ahram Weekly that the wind will “stir sand and dust in areas of Greater Cairo, Lower Egypt, the northwestern coasts, the Canal cities, northern Upper Egypt and the Western Desert, except for the south of the country, leading to a decrease in visibility on highways and desert roads.”
Shaker added that in addition, a depression will be formed in the upper layers of the atmosphere, leading to the formation of clouds and light thunderstorms, at times over areas of the Northern Coast, sea surface and south of the country.
These are the features of the khamasini spring season, in which the winds that reach the edge of the storm and sand are active, according to Ahmed Abdel-Aal, former head of the Meteorological Authority. “There are also cases of instability in the weather and rain that may reach torrential rains in the south of the country and the mountain ranges of the Red Sea as a result of the seasonal Sudan monsoon. These climatic phenomena used to occur in Egypt in the months of March and April, but with the impact of climate changes on Egypt as part of the countries of the world, we have seen these phenomena occur in May and June, as happened last week,” Abdel-Aal said.
The winds affected mango and apricot trees, in addition to the falling of trees and billboards, as wind speed reached 66 km per hour.
Social media pages reported billboards falling which led to an undetermined loss of life. Billboards are reported to have dropped on 6 October Bridge, Banha highway road, and Suez desert road.
Mohamed Al-Shennawi, the owner of an advertising company, attributed the collapses to the non-compliance of some advertising companies with construction and maintenance specifications due to the “exorbitant financial expenses” incurred by the advertising companies.
“The increase in licence fees, ranging from LE3,000 to LE4,000 per metre, in addition to the rise in iron and raw materials prices, has had a detrimental effect on advertising companies, which has led to the departure of many of them from the market or a reduction in the salaries of workers and lack of commitment to follow up on the maintenance of billboards in the streets, which has led to a number of storm incidences last week,” Al-Shennawi said.
There will be an investigation as to who was responsible for the billboards that fell, Al-Shennawi said.
The good news is that the modernisation of meteorological devices, continuous training of workers, and the authority’s 24-hour work in the main centre areas, airports, and ports led to the high credibility that the authority has enjoyed with the public, locally and globally.
Despite everything, Egypt’s climate is still the most stable in the world, Abdel-Aal affirmed.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 8 June, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly