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How likely are Sand storms in the Desert

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I have been trying to determine how likely it is to encounter a sand storm in the Sahara. Some things I've read say they are fairly often but I'm not sure how reliable the source was. This isn't a frivolous question, but one of importance for me as I have a pulmonary condition and I'm trying to see if I need to prepare for a sand storm and if a particular type mask is recommended. Has anyone actually been in a sand storm and if so how long did it last and was it really intense? At one place I read that they could last from a few minutes to several days and no particular time of year was more likely than any other. Any info would be appreciated.

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