Cool folklore

It was yet another extremely windy evening in Bahrain today. This confirms the deadly summer is finally on its way out, with the remnants, in the form of the still very hot sun, also waning slowly.

Though it is unusual for this time of the year, the local weatherman has said these are the north-westerly shamal winds that will result in a hasty exit for the hot weather.

The shamal blows over Iraq and the Arabian Gulf states, often strong during the day, but decreasing at night. This weather effect occurs anywhere from once to several times a year, mostly in summer but sometimes in winter.

The resulting wind typically creates large sandstorms that impact Iraq, most sand having been picked up from Jordan and Syria.

According to folklore, the first major shamal occurring around May 25 is known as the Al-Haffar, or driller, since it drills huge depressions in desert sand dunes. The second, arriving in early June, coincides with the dawn star, Thorayya (Pleiades), and so named Barih Thorayya. During this event, which is more violent than the others, fishermen usually stay in port because ancient folklore tells them that this wind devours ships. Near the end of June, the last shamal arrives, known as the Al-Dabaran, or the follower. It is violent and continues for several days. Local residents keep doors and windows firmly shut as this shamal includes an all-penetrating fine dust which gets into everything.

This picture of trees severely bent due to the wind, was taken on Bahrain’s Muharraq island.

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