Sandstorms occur when high winds roll across barren expanses of dry soil, kicking up dust and carrying it along as they travel. They can move at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and can easily reach heights taller than a 5-story building. The resulting cloud traveling across a landscape of dunes (or a major metro area!) can be both terrifying and beautiful.
But don’t get too mesmerized. Sandstorms can do significant damage to sensitive tissues, especially your eyes and nose. Being caught in one with no protection will feel like getting rubbed down with sandpaper on every exposed surface of your body. If you do find yourself in the path of an oncoming sandstorm, take cover and do what you can to protect yourself with the tools you have available. It goes without saying that if you can get inside a building, do so and stay away from windows that could break if the sandstorm contains debris. But, if you’re on foot or driving through the desert, heed the advice above.