With winds howling and dust storms blanketing much of the country, air pollution levels hit their highest concentrations in the past five years on Wednesday morning."The level of air pollution measured in the past day is exceptional in comparison to previous years, and from a national perspective this is the largest and most extensive dust storm in the past five years," a statement from the Environmental Protection Ministry said. The high air pollution levels were expected to persist around the country through the late afternoon, until the incoming rain storm is likely to begin, according to the ministry. While this is the most widespread dust storm in terms of air pollution levels, similar concentrations of dust were measured during March 2012 and both May and December 2010, the ministry said. The abnormal amounts of air pollution level are associated with a deep depression over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, transporting dust from North Africa to the region.