144 flights affected as sandstorm covers Spain’s Canary Islands

epa08241582 A man takes part in the few activities of the Carnival that were not canceled due to bad weather in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 23 February 2020. Big amounts of dust and sand from Sahara desert made their way into the islands yesterday, 22 February 2020, throughout strong wind gusts that intensified today, causing the cancellation of most part of Carnival celebrations, as well as the suspension of classes for tomorrow, 24 February 2020, and the closing of the airports in the islands until at least 20:00 of today. EPA-EFE/RAMON DE LA ROCHA

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All incoming flights to Spain’s Canary Islands were diverted on Sunday, airport operator AENA said, after a sandstorm from the Sahara hit the archipelago, coating the islands with orange dust and limiting visibility.

Around 144 flights have been affected so far, a spokeswoman for AENA said, adding it was unclear how long the airports would remain closed.

Spain’s national weather service warned on Saturday evening that winds of up to 120km/h (75 mph) are likely to buffet the Canaries until Monday. Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are likely to be the hardest hit.

The government of the Canary Islands has recommended that people who suffer from chronic respiratory diseases not go out without medication and advised people to keep their doors and windows closed across the archipelago. Authorities in Lanzarote’s capital, Arrecife, cancelled all outdoor activities, including some carnival celebrations.

This weather event is known as the “Calima” and is a burst of dust-filled wind originating over the Sahara. When strong enough, it blows out of Morocco or Western Sahara to cover some or all of the Canary Islands. It can also be a warm wind and this event has already lifted the temperature on Gran Canaria.

Via Al Jazeera / Reuters / El Pais 

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