Dust storms cover Israel on last day of Passover

Dust storms swept over from Egypt into Israel kept many people indoors for the last day of Passover; Sde Dov airport shut.

Tel Aviv in Dust Storm_390 (photo credit: Elana Kirsh)
Tel Aviv in Dust Storm_390
(photo credit: Elana Kirsh)
Dust storms swept from Egypt into Israel on Monday, keeping many people indoors for the last day of Passover.
From late morning until evening, a high level of air pollution overtook much of the country, with high concentrations of dust particles capable of passing into human respiratory tracts, the Environmental Protection Ministry said. The high levels of air pollution were the result of a deep low pressure system over the eastern Mediterranean Sea that brought strong winds and thereby dust and sand storms from Egypt into Israel, the ministry explained.
Due to the high risk of airborne contamination, the ministry recommended that members of sensitive populations – such as heart and lung patients, the elderly, children and pregnant women – refrain from strenuous physical activities in the areas affected by the storm.
Throughout the day, the presence of small respirable particles from 10 microns in size proved to be very high, the Environment Ministry reported.
Levels in the North were overall about three to three and a half times those on a clear day, while in the South they were about three times and in the Center – including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – the levels were four times those of a clear day.
Short-term peak concentrations were much more astounding, with levels in the North reaching 30 to 40 times those of a clear day, 95 times in Jerusalem, 30 times in Beersheba and 36 times in the southern coastal plain areas of Ashkelon and Yavne, the ministry said.
Despite the dust storms and the warnings, about 100,000 tourists still took to the country’s national parks and nature reserves to enjoy their final day of Passover. A beach sand sculpture event at Beit Yannai alone received more than 8,000 visitors, with a walrus piece winning first prize for the day, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
Overall throughout the holiday, about 1.2 million people traveled to national parks and nature reserves during what proved to be a predominantly sunny and warm week. The most popularly visited sites were Yarkon National Park, Palmahim National Park, the Banias Nature Reserve, Tel Dan Nature Reserve, Caesarea National Park and Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, the INPA said.