Sandstorms typically occur in deserts, where sand is abundant. They are caused when strong winds blow around loose sand in great quantities. Dust storms, which are similar to sandstorms, consist of soil and debris instead of sand.
Sandstorms are more frequent at times of the year when intensely hot air over the desert causes instability in the lower atmosphere. This causes strong winds to develop in the lowest atmospheric layer, which is called the troposphere. Sandstorms can result in significant damage to homes and machinery. They have also been responsible for numerous deaths throughout the Middle East and North Africa.