A sandstorm is a meteorological feature of the planet Arrakis. Sandstorms were violent, consisting of electrically charged wind, sand and dust, flying at speeds of up to 500km/h.
Anyone cought in a sandstorm was almost guarranteed to die. The speeds at which the sand and dust were thrown would typically rip flesh from bone.
The Fremen of Arrakis typically did not traverse the desert when a sandstorm was approaching. However, they did possess some technology which could help them survive, if they found themselves in such a situation. This included stiltents, and the fremkit.
When Paul Atreides and his mother, the Lady Jessica, were fleeing from the Harkonnen attack on Arrakis, Paul flew their ornithopter into a particularly vicious sandstorm, betting that the Harkonnen troops would not pursure them under the assumption that the Atreides faced certain death. However, due to Paul's piloting, the stilsuit and fremkit, Paul and Jessica managed to survive the sandstorm.
As Arrakis was in the process of being terraformed into a green and lush world, sandstorms became less frequent, and eventually disappeared.
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