Massive Dust Storm Shrouds Spain, Neighbouring Countries
A Saharan dust storm envelops Spain and its neighbouring countries. The natural phenomenon is sweeping across Europe, making it hard for citizens to breathe.
Dust Storm Blankets Spain Skies
The dust storm painted Spain’s skies from mucky grey to orange shades in the Swiss Alps. It was due to the miniature clouds of dust that travelled over a thousand kilometres throughout the Mediterranean Sea. The European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service was monitoring the huge accumulation of dust that has “polluted air quality all over parts of Spain, France, and Portugal.”
Together with Spain’s national weather service, experts illustrated the incident as “extraordinary.” They based their analysis according to the amount of dust in the air. However, it hadn’t surpassed any records. The dust cloud travelled around 1,500 miles from North Africa.
“This is an intense event, but this type of event typically occurs once or twice a year, normally in February or March, when a low-pressure system over Algeria and Tunisia gathers up dust and carries it north to Europe. Dust can reach the U.K., or even Iceland, as it did last year,” said Carlos Pérez García. He is a researcher who studies atmospheric dust at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.
Spain’s national air quality index is “extremely unfavourable,” which is the worst rating. It stretched to most of the nation’s southern and central regions. This includes Madrid and other main cities, such as Seville.
After Dust Storm Comes Rains
These Saharan dust clouds occur each year when the hot wind blows across loose soils on arid lands. Spain authorities recommended citizens use face masks when going outside. They also told them not to do outdoor exercises at the moment because of the event. Hot airwaves also transformed the air quality in areas as far as the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands.
Meanwhile, African hot air mass drenched Spain with heavy rains. For the past three months of 2021, the country recorded only 35% of its average rainfall. Since then, there’s almost no rain.
Ironically, drought-stricken regions are flooded and worry farmers that their crops could fail. Weather experts suggested that climate change has intensified the problem in what must be the wet season. The combination of rainwater and desert dust creates an occurrence called “blood rain” that leaves a muddy residue.
Effects on European Countries
In a larger part of Spain, people experience less visibility making it difficult for motorists to drive. In the south, the dust incorporated with rain, producing mud.
Skiers in Switzerland burst through orange-tinged snows on the Alpine slopes. On the other hand, reddish-stained skies cast a shadow over places, such as Payerne Air Base near Lake Neuchatel.
Weather forecasters in Geneva projected that their skies would remain yellowish-orange for several days. An overnight rainfall brought the Serbian capital a thick layer of yellow-colour dust carpeting pavements and parks. Due to the dust cloud, Belgrade’s already polluted air due to coal-powered electric plants and factories became worse.
“It’s about as strong as it gets, as far as Saharan dust crossing to the U.K. Rain has washed the dust from higher up in the atmosphere and brought it down to the surface; that’s why people are seeing it on their windows,” said meteorologist Alex Burkill at the Met Office.
Burkill added that most people wouldn’t see any effect on their health. However, some might experience eye irritation or sore throat.
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