Iraq Sandstorms Possible Next Week

LONDON (Reuters) - Weather experts forecast U.S.-led troops in Iraq could face more sandstorms next week, with temperatures starting their climb toward unbearable summer highs.

After swirling sandstorms struck southern Iraq during the past week, German forecasters predicted more high winds in the coming week.

"In southern Iraq and in Kuwait there could again be sandstorms because the wind will be strong," German independent weather service said.

The forecasters, using data from Germany's national forecasting service DWD, said conditions would improve in Baghdad over the weekend, but next week would be changeable.

Meteorologists in the United States said on Friday temperatures could soar to an above-average 90 degrees Fahrenheit next Wednesday, overshadowing fears of more storms which can reduce visibility to zero and damage high-tech military equipment.

"The next big story you are going to hear about is the warmth, it's going to start getting very warm there by the middle part of next week," said Bernie Rayno, a senior Meteorologist with Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather Inc.

"We are going to start hearing less and less about the sandstorms and more and more about the intense heat." predicted temperatures would reach 84 degrees Fahrenheit in Basra on Wednesday and 80 degrees in Baghdad.

Earlier this week, a U.S. general in Qatar said high winds, sandstorms and thunderstorms had had an impact on the battlefield in Iraq but the invasion of Iraq remained on track.

AccuWeather's Rayno said sandstorms could die out as the Middle East's storm season ends, but with that came the challenge of unpredictability.

Up to 30 sandstorms are expected in Iraq's January to March wet season every year when storm systems bring not only rain but sustained high winds.

From April onwards storms became almost impossible to predict because high winds could no longer be linked to patterns but to subtle pressure differences instead.