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Eerie scene: Dust storm engulfs Emali

Friday October 13 2017

Dust storm

Dust storm engulfs Emali, Makueni County, on October 12, 2017. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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A dust storm engulfed Emali town on Thursday.

According to witnesses, the storm approached the town that straddles Makueni and Kajiado counties from southern eastern side at around 4pm and lasted for more than 30 minutes.

“At first it looked like a whirlwind but then it became more menacing,” Zipporah Kalekye, a fruits vendor at the busy centre, said. 

She added: “For 30 minutes we were enveloped in a slow moving cloud of dust that created an eerie spectacle.”

Ms Kalekye’s stall was destroyed by the storm.

Businessmen hurriedly closed their shops to protect their wares from the dust as mothers covered up their babies.

Motorists had to switch on head lamps to avoid accidents. 

“You could hardly identify someone standing five metres away,” said Patrick Mutua, a shopkeeper, adding that the storm was unlike anything he had seen in his life. 

A few people caught up in the storm took photos of it as it swallowed the small town and broadcast the images and short videos on social media.  

Residents say the last time they witnessed such a phenomena was “around the same time in 2012”.

Opinion was divided on its significance, with the older generations saying that it was a smokescreen pulled by an unscrupulous member of the community migrating his evil powers from one point to another, while the young generation said it was a precursor to heavy short rains. 

However in an interview with the Saturday Nation, the head of Meteorological Department in Makueni County, Mr David Mutua, termed the dust storm a normal occurrence. 

Mr Mutua, who witnessed and took photos of the storm, said that it was occasioned by convergence of wind in a low pressure area.

Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface.

No was reported injured.