DThat orange car, a dusty metro corridor, a stuffy and pale skyline: a fine layer of sand from the Sahara fell over a good part of Madrid and Spain from Monday to Tuesday before moving on to France.
A frequent occurrence in Southern Europe
Crossing the Pyrenees, the dust passed mainly over western France on Tuesday, where the event was particularly visible, for example in Bordeaux or La Rochelle, before turning north. It should continue, though fading, until Thursday, French meteorological services said. An event not exceptional, but “striking over its geographic extent and duration of a few days”.
This meteorological phenomenon, strong hot winds carrying sand dust from the Sahara Desert, is called “calima” in Spain. It is quite common, especially in the Canary Islands located in northwestern Africa.
Hurricanes in the Sahara Desert create gusts of wind on the ground surface, which pick up particles of sand and dust, the Spanish National Meteorological Agency (Amet) explained in a video posted on Twitter. The temperature difference between warm air and cold ground in altitude causes the smallest particles to remain in the air, while the steepest drop expands the amet. The wind carried these particles toward the Iberian Peninsula, the agency concluded, which does not exclude “mud rain” in Spain.
The air quality in the affected areas was poor on Tuesday morning: stations located in the cities of Madrid or Segovia or vila (centre) measured “extremely unfavorable” air quality.
What about France and Belgium?
In France, the event should last until Thursday, as the sands are “blocked by an anticyclone over Greece”, explained Marin Geoffrian of the Meteo France. It affects “a good part of the country”, even though “the South is less affected”.
According to the Royal Meteorological Institute (IRM) of Belgium, the dust clouds should reach our country by Wednesday. “CAMS (Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service) monitors dust and sand in the atmosphere. According to their model, the dust clouds will mainly reach our region tomorrow.
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