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Chapter 3, Part 4


Gulf War Weather (Continued)

24 February 1991

A low pressure system moved slowly eastward along the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border. High pressure was still centered over the southeastern Arabian Peninsula. The subtropical jet stream's middle and high clouds moved eastward over the Persian Gulf. They were out of the area by about 1900Z, but another upper level disturbance brought more high and middle clouds eastward. At 1500Z, these clouds were in north-central Saudi Arabia.

Morning fog again blanketed the central Persian Gulf coast between Dhahran and the Strait of Hormuz. Visibility was poorest (2,000 meters) south of Qatar. Gust winds and blowing dust accompanied the low near the northern Saudi Arabian border where 15 to 20 knot winds raised dust that reduced visibilities to 6 km. Broken to overcast middle clouds produced 8,000 foot ceilings over the northern Persian Gulf, but embedded low clouds resulted in isolated ceilings at 3,000 feet. Isolated rainshowers fell near the low, reducing visibilities to 8 km. Isolated thunderstorms, with bases at 2,500 feet and tops to 30,000 feet, developed southwest of Riyadh between 1500 and 2200Z. Smoke reduced visibilities and obscured skies along the Persian Gulf as far south as 23 degrees North.

In Kuwait and southern Iraq, skies were broken to overcast with 8,000 foot ceilings until about 0500Z. Tops of these multiplayered clouds reached 35,000 feet. There were isolated 2,500 foot ceilings. By 0500Z, the higher clouds had moved east, leaving scattered to broken low clouds over Kuwait. In the evening, more middle and high clouds began to move into the southern half from the west. They reached western Kuwait by 2000Z, bringing 9,000 foot ceilings and tops to 30,000 feet.

Isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms affected Kuwait and southeastern Iraq unti 0600Z. Rain, heavy at time, reduced visibility to 5 km. Winds in Saudi Arabia and western Iraq were southwesterly to westerly at 10-15 knots, increasing to 15-25 knots by 0900Z south of 32 degrees North, with gusts to 30 knots. By 2100Z, speeds had diminished to 10-15 knots. Winds in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley were southeasterly at 10-20 knots, but dropped to 3-5 knots after sunset.

Duststorms reduced visibilities to as low as 1,000 meters in Kuwait and southern Iraq between 0900 and 2100Z. Dense smoke from the Kuwaiti oil fires moved northwestward. Visibilities just south of Baghdad were less than 3,000 meters. Fog formed after 2100Z in Kuwait and southern Iraq, reducing visibilities to less than 4,000 meters. Afternoon high temperatures were 10-21 degrees Celsius; morning lows ranged from 1 degree Celsius in the northeast to 15 degrees Celsius in the southeast.

Visible Smoke Plumes

DMSP visual imagery in Gulf War Weather shows smoke plumes from Kuwait moving westward into Iraq.

(As the ground war began, Iraqi forces set fire to Kuwaiti oil wells, resulting in extremely heavy smoke concentrations over the entire region.)

25 February 1991

An upper air disturbance moving northeastward spread stormy weather over the northern Arabian Peninsula; by 0900Z, most of the region was covered with clouds. A low pressure system lingered over northwestern Saudi Arabia as the high pressure cell in the southeast moved eastward. Low pressure moving east from the northeastern Mediterranean spread clouds southeastward over northern Iraq.

Fog reduced visibilities to as low as 1,500 meters from northeastern Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates coast (and to as low as 500 meters in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley) before 0400Z and again after 2000Z. Broken middle and high multilayered clouds with tops to 30,000 feet spread 9,000 foot ceilings from the northern Red Sea to the northern Persian Gulf and along the Iran-Iraq border. Isolated thunderstorms and rainshowers formed over northwestern Saudi Arabia throughout the day. They were most intense and widespread at about 1600Z northwest of Riyadh, along the southern Iraq-Iran border, and in extreme western Iraq near the Jordan border. Some of these storms were dry, creating intense, localized duststorms that reduced visibilities to well below 1,000 meters. Widespread duststorms were reported in the northern Arabian Peninsula and the Syrian Desert between 0900 and 2000Z with visibilities as low as 4,000 meters. Prevailing winds were as high as 30 kno! ts in northeastern Saudi Arabia.

At 0300Z, broken high clouds with 24,000 foot ceilings prevailed over Iraq and Kuwait; but as denser clouds continued to move in, a solid overcast from 7,000 to 33,000 feet formed throughout southern Iraq and Kuwait. After 1300Z, isolated thunderstorms with tops to 35,000 feet developed in the area's southern half; skies in the heaviest storms wree obscured. Conditions over southern Iraq and Kuwait improved after 1800Z. In southwestern Iraq between the Tigris River and the Iranian border, skies were scattered with isolated low clouds from 2,000 to 20,000 feet. South of 30 degrees North, skies wre broken to overcast with 20,000 foot ceilings; there were also isolated low clouds from 10,000 to 35,000 feet. Elsewhere, skies remained overcast between 8,000 and 35,000 feet.

At 0500Z, a line of rainshowers spread from west-central Saudi Arabia northeastward to the Saudi Arabia-Iraq border and eastward into southern Kuwait. The line expanded and intensified to cover most of Kuwait, southern Iraq, and north-central Saudi Arabia by 1600Z. Intermittent precipitation fell the rest of the day.

Winds were southeasterly at 5-10 knots until 0900Z. Afternoon winds were stronger at 15-20 knots, with gusts to 40. Fog and smoke reduced visibilities to below 2,000 meters in southern Iraq and Kuwait. Visibilities improved to 8 km by 0600Z, but sporadic duststorms in the afternoon reduced them to 4,000 meters. High temperatures were 14-21 degrees Celsius; lows, 3-16 degrees Celsius.

26 February 1991

As the upper air disturbance moved northeast, it continued to produce heavy rainshowers and duststorms over the area. A surface trough formed between the low pressure area in central Saudi Arabia and another moving through southern Turkey. By 2100Z, the trough stretched through Iraq along 43 degrees East. An area of high pressure was located in centrtal Iran and the extreme southeastern Arabian Peninsula.

Several lines of rainshowers and thunderstorms moved through the northern Arabian Peninsula throughout the day. Between 0000 and 0300Z, an area of thunderstorms spread from the Red Sea near 25 degrees North to the Iraq-Saudi Arabia border near 45 degrees East. Another formed in northeastern Iraq near the Iranian border. By 0900Z, a third area had formed over northeastern Saudi Arabia at 28 Degrees North, 47 degrees East. Bases were at 2,500 feet and tops reached 35,000 feet. Thunderstorms were embedded in scattered to broken middle clouds west of 45 degrees East. Multilayered clouds were broken to overcast from 8,000 to 33,000 feet north of 25 degrees North. By 1100Z, the northern area had spread southwestward and the southern areas had moved southeastward. Storm intensity and coverage increased throughout the day until 1600Z, when a line of isolated thunderstorms extended from the northern Persian Gulf to southwest of Riyadh. Areas west of 43 degrees East had clea! red. Clouds, rainshowers, and thunderstorms spread southeastward again in the evening, reaching as far southwest as 20 degrees North, 44 degrees East, by 1900Z.

Broken to overcast clouds between 8,000 and 20,000 feet covered the entire area before 0300Z. The lower cloud deck gradually dissipated in the northwest, leaving scattered skies over most of Iraq, and high clouds with tops to 32,000 feet over southern Iraq and Kuwait. Scattered to broken clouds between 4,000 and 6,000 feet formed over central Iraq between 0500 and 1600Z. At 1100Z, there were isolated thunderstorms or rainshowers embedded in these clouds in a line from 35 degrees North, 45 minutes East, to 31 degrees North, 41 minutes East. Thunderstorms also formed over eastern Kuwait and extreme southwestern Iraq after 1500Z. Cloud bases were 3,000 feet and tops reach 35,000 feet.

Intermittent rainshowers and thunderstorms fell southeast of a line extending from 34 degrees North, 46 minutes East, to 31 degrees North, 42 minutes East throughout the day.

Winds were southeasterly at 10-15 knots, but by 1200Z, speeds in the east reached 20-30 knots. Winds in the west shifted to northwesterly at 10-15 knots as the trough moved eastward. Fog and smoke reduced visibilities to below 2,000 meters from the central Tigris-Euphrates river valley to Kuwait. Visibilities improved to 8 km by 0600Z, but sporadic duststorms in the afternoon reduced visibilities to 4,000 meters. Visibilities in heavy rainshowers may have dropped to as low as 1,000 meters. High temperatures were 17-21 degrees Celsius; lows, 7-16 degrees Celsius.

27 February 1991

A low pressure cell that had been centered in southwestern Iraq at 1000Z slid southeastward into the Persian Gulf throughout the day. A weak frontal system in the eastern Mediterranean Sea moved onshore and was in central Iraq by the end of the day.

In western Iraq and northwestern Saudi Arabia, skies were scattered with bases at 10,000 feet throughout the morning. Clouds from the front approaching from the Mediterranean began moving in by 1100Z, forming ceilings rapidly. Rain began lowering visibilities to 5 km by 1300Z. Thunderstorms developed in the afternoon as the clouds moved eastward. By the end of the day, clouds and rain were confined to the western Saudi Arabia-Iraq border. In north-central and northeastern Saudi Arabia, broken clouds, multilayered from 3,000 to 25,000 feet with rainshowers and thunderstorms, prevailed. Visibilities were 4,800 meters in ground fog, rain and haze, but near zero in blowing dust from thunderstorms. Clouds moved slowly southeast to east-central Saudi Arabia by day's end.

Broken multilayered clouds from 3,000 to 25,000 feet covered the southern half of the area, but cleared from the northwest by noon, leaving scattered clouds at 3,000 feet and broken clouds at 6,000-8,000 feet over southeast Iraq and Kuwait. These also cleared by 1900Z. A smoke layer at 2,500 feet covered most of central and southern Kuwait throughout the day. A line of broken 4,000 foot clouds associated with the from the Mediterranean invaded the western part of the area by noon. The line was past Baghdad and into north-central Saudi Arabia by the end of the day. Rainshowers and thunderstorms were widespread in the southern half of the area through the morning. Light rain fell in the western half as the front passed.

Winds were northwesterly to northeasterly at 5-15 knots (but up to 25 knots in thunderstorms) in the southern half of the area. Winds became southwesterly at 5-15 knots as the front approached, and northwesterly at 8-20 knots behind it. Visibilities were near zero in dense fog along the Tigris-Euphrates river basin. There were also near zero in the southern half of the area, where thunderstorms produced blowing dust. Elsewhere, morning visibilities were 5 km in ground fog, rain, and haze. Rain lowered visibilities to 4,800 meters in the western half of the area as the front passed. Smoke limited visibility aloft to 1,600 meters over Kuwait. High temperatures were 13-20 degrees Celsius; lows, 7-16 degrees Celsius.

28 February 1991

Low pressure was centered over the southeastern part of the Saudi Arabian peninsula while high pressure intensified in the rest of the region. Remnants of a weak frontal system remained in northern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq.

Skies were broken to overcast over north-central, northeastern, east, and east-central Saudi Arabia. Ceiling heights were 3,000-4,000 feet. By evening, skies were mostly clear to scattered. Light rain and drizzle fell over north-central and eastern Saudi Arabia. Thunderstorms with tops to 35,000 feet were observed over east-central Saudi Arabia and the northern part of the Persian Gulf during early morning. Winds were northwesterly at 10-20 knots with gusts to 25 knots. Fog lowered morning visibilities to 4,800 meters in east-central Saudi Arabia. Fog reduced early afternoon visibilities to 3,200 meters in northeastern Saudi Arabia, which improved to 6-8 km in smoke and haze by late afternoon. A sandstorm in east-central Saudi Arabia, with winds speeds of 30-40 knots, reduced late afternoon and early evening visibilities to 1,600-4,000 meters, with isolated reports of 100 meters.

Skies wre broken to overcast over southern and southeastern Iraq and Kuwait--ceilings were 3,000 to 4,000 feet, but 800 feet in showers. By early evening, skies were cleared to scattered. Isolated afternoon thunderstorms (tops to 35,000 feet) and rainshowers were present over southeastern Iraq and Kuwait.

Winds were northwesterly to northerly at 10-20 knots, with gusts to 35 knots near thunderstorms. In Kuwait, visibilities were less than 3,200 meters in smoke and 2,000 meters in thunderstorms. High temperatures were 13-18 degrees Celsius; lows, 5-10 degrees Celsius.

1 March 1991

High pressure dominated, but a low pressure system developed over the eastern Mediterranean by the end of the day, sending moisture into western areas. Skies were clear to scattered over most of the area, but scattered to broken at 1,000-2,000 feet over northeast and eastern Saudi Arabia due to smoke. Scattered to broken low clouds at 3,000 feet, with occasionally broken middle and high ceilings, moved into western Iraq and northwestern Saudi Arabia by mid-afternoon. Winds were northwesterly to northerly at 10-15 knots. Visibilities in northeastern Saudi Arabia were 6-8 km in smoke and haze. Blowing sand and dust reduced early morning visibilities to 3,200 meters in east-central and eastern Saudi Arabia. Scattered, occasionally broken, middle clouds at 8,000-10,000 feet moved into central Iraq by mid-afternoon.

Winds were northwesterly at 10-15 knots. Smoke and haze reduced visibilities in Kuwait to 5-7 km, occasonally to 3,200 meters. High temperatures were 15-20 degrees Celsius; lows, 5-10 degrees Celsius.

2 March 1991

High pressure dominated as a low pressure system moved northeast and brought moisture across Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia. Skies were broken to overcast at 8,000-10,000 feet, but early morning ceilings were 3,000-5,000 feet in showers over western and northern Iraq. Smoke formed a broken layer at 2,000-3,000 feet over northeast and east-central Saudi Arabia during the morning. Skies over the rest of the area were clear to scattered. Isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms with tops to 35,000 feet developed during early morning in Northern Iraq. Visibilities were 6-8 km in precipitation. Haze reduced morning visibilities to 4,800 meters in east-central Saudi Arabia. Smoke reduced morning visibilities in eastern Saudi Arabia to 4,800 meters; in the afternoon and evening, to 4,000 meters.

Over central Iraq, skies were broken with middle clouds at 8,000-10,000 feet in the early morning, becoming scattered in early afternoon. Winds were northwesterly at 10-15 knots. Smoke reduced visibilities in Kuwait to 5-7 km, with isolated areas of less than 1,600 meters. High temperatures were 15-20 degrees Celsius; lows, 5-10 degrees Celsius.


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