An intense calima coming to the Canary Islands will make the air unbreathable

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 24-01-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: C7
An intense calima coming to the Canary Islands will make the air unbreathable

The Canary Islands Government has declared a pre-alert for strong haze, as a blanket of Sahara dust is set to cover the archipelago, rendering the air nearly unbreathable. Meteorological experts from Meteored have issued a warning predicting a calima that will cast an intense haze that will result in highly unfavourable or even dangerous air quality.

While mainland Spain braces for a heatwave, the Canary Islands are gearing up for a calima from the Sahara which could reach levels last seen in 2020 just before the pandemic. This is attributed to a powerful high-pressure system situated over the mainland, with a secondary core in the Sahara, propelling south and east winds toward the archipelago, reaching speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour in the central and northern parts of the islands.

Throughout the remainder of the week, this dust-laden wind is expected to significantly reduce visibility and air quality, reaching levels categorised as “very unfavourable” and, at times, “extremely detrimental”. According to Meteored, concentrations of particles smaller than 10 microns will surpass 250 micrograms per cubic metre across much of the archipelago, with peaks exceeding 400 micrograms per cubic metre.

"Air quality will be perilous at times, particularly on Thursday, as indicated by the maps, depicting the most adverse conditions. The possibility of suspended dust persisting into the following week is not ruled out," they said.

In response to this situation, the Government of the Canary Islands have declared a pre-alert for calima, warning the population that this episode "may pose health problems for individuals with chronic and/or respiratory illnesses." Additionally, the Ministry of Health advises taking precautions such as avoiding prolonged outdoor exposure, keeping windows closed, and refraining from outdoor physical activities.

At the same time, the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) issued a yellow warning for strong winds in the northern and mountainous areas of the islands, potentially reaching speeds of 70 kilometres per hour. In El Hierro, the warning is upgraded to orange, as gusts could reach 90 kilometres per hour. AEMET has also issued yellow warnings today for low visibility in Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, with tomorrow's visibility issues affecting La Gomera, El Hierro, Lanzarote, and Fuerteventura.