Local media said sandstorms that are unexpectedly powerful have claimed the lives of at least six people in Sao Paulo in recent weeks. This sandstorm was triggered by severe drought in southeastern Brazil.
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Deadly Sandstorms in Brazil
Across the countryside, scenes of massive orange dust clouds booming together with winds of about 62 miles (100 kilometers) an hour have been noticed not less than three times since September ended and this is putting fear in people inhabiting urban and rural regions of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais states.
The death of six people in Sao Paulo was a result of falling trees and buildings and other direct impacts of the storms, local media reported.
Sand storms and dust storms are natural occurrences connected to land and water management as well as climate change. This phenomenon is a combination of different hazards, including dust, sand, and wind.
The reason both are unpredictable and deadly is the fluctuation in their magnitude, intensity, or interaction with each other. Most regions are in the low-latitude arid lands, but dust sources can emerge in nearly any environment, usually through human influence.
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Extreme Weather Events
Meteorologist Estael Sias from the Brazilian weather channel Metsul told AFP about the storms: “In some ways, they’re a common occurrence, but not of this magnitude that we’ve seen in 2021.”
She explained: “It’s the result of a long period of a lack of rain, high temperature, and low humidity.”
Following the dry season, rain began and is often accompanied by wind storms.
Sias said the wind gusts meet with the sandy ground, churning up into the air pollution, waste, and the remnants from fires. This also takes place during the dry season. He said the powerful storms can’t be dissociated from climate change.
Sias said in this century, each year has witnessed record temperatures. There is so much heat in the atmosphere and it has just been changed to energy for extreme weather events – rain, floods, storms, as well as cold, drought, and heat – which is what has just been let loose with occurrences like these dust storms.
(Photo : Getty Images)
This type of storm, which can occur frequently in desert areas, is capable of reaching thousands of meters into the sky, being up to 160 kilometers wide, and can last for a number of hours, as per Sias.
Adding to the extreme drought experience, most agricultural area also has vast open spaces uncovered by vegetation, leaving land susceptible to the soil being caught up in intense winds.
Brazil is experiencing its most impactful drought in 91 years and this has led to a very low water level in hydroelectric reserves in the central-west as well as the southern parts of the country, increasing the costs of electricity.
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