Valleywx.com: NASA images of dust storm, large thunderstorms over Middle East

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These panoramas taken by astronauts from the International Space Station show the tropical blue waters of the Persian Gulf and then the dust-filled skies as a major dust storm obscures the Gulf and its northern shoreline.

Strong north winds often blow across the region in summer, churning up dust from the entire length of the deserts in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys (top left in both images). Dust partly obscures hundreds of kilometers of light-green agricultural lands along these rivers in Iraq (left in both images).

The Caspian Sea cuts across the horizon in the upper image. In the lower image, a line of thunderstorms rises along the edge of the Zagros Mountains of Iran, and the setting sun casts long shadows from those thunderheads.

Astronauts see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day from low-Earth orbit, allowing them to capture the dusk darkening a wide variety of landscapes.

Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.