Photos Show Powerful Sandstorm Blasting Middle East

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Photos Show Powerful Sandstorm Blasting Middle East Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

A sandstorm sweeping across the Middle East is causing disruption at several of the region's travel hubs, raising air-pollution levels and coating things with a layer of sand.

The storm was caused by a cyclone that moved across the Atlas Mountains in northeastern Africa, dragging sand eastward from the Sahara Desert, according to ABC News reports.

On Tuesday, the storm forced Cairo's airport to briefly close to arrivals, the Associated Press reports. For more than an hour, vision at Cairo's airport was limited to around 150 meters, or just under 500 feet. The sandstorm has turned the city into something resembling a yellow-hued alien landscape.

The sandstorm also grounded flights at Israel's Eilat Airport. Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry reported record-high air-pollution levels and said the sandstorm was the largest to hit the country in four years.

Posts on social media Wednesday showed parts of Jordan caked in sand.

NASA scientist Colin Seftor told ABC News that it was "quite unusual" to see sand traveling so far away from its origin in the desert. Winds from the storm surpassed 60 miles per hour, the BBC reports.

The storm is expected to last into Wednesday night. Sandstorms are typically seen in Egypt around this time of the year, the AP reports.

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Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
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Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
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Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
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Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
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Asmaa Waguih/Reuters