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Photos: Dust From the Sahara Turn Western Europe's Sky Bright Orange

Europe News
by Olivia Harden Mar 15, 2022

When residents of Spain, Portugal, and other parts of Western Europe woke up this morning, they weren’t greeted with a cheery sunrise, clear blue skies, or even cloudy grays. Instead, the sky was red-orange and layers of red-orange dust covered their terraces, streets, and cars.

Hot air from the Sahara Desert has traveled across the Mediterranean and turned the sky this red-orange hue, resulting in the National Air Quality Index to give Madrid and large parts of the southeast coast its worst rating — “extremely unfavorable,” according to The Associated Press.

Visibility in Madrid and cities like Granada and Leon was reduced to only a couple kilometers, the weather service said.

The country’s weather service forecast expects that the dust will continue through Wednesday. As the wind direction changes it is reaching countries like France, the Netherlands, parts of England, and northwestern Germany.

This mass of hot air from Africa was brought in by Storm Celia that delivered a relief of rain as Spain has been hit with a drought. Many people believe the storm is a result of changing weather patterns due to climate change.

It’s unclear at this point whether this is the worst dust storm for Europe on record but, as the Sahara Desert expands, so does the probability of dust storms. While small dust storms that travel around the world from the Sahara are common, it’s the large ones that are concerning. In 2020, a massive dust storm from the Sahara crossed the Atlantic and clouded skies in the Caribbean and Eastern US.

In the meantime, officials say if you need to leave the house to wear the same facemasks that have been used during the pandemic.

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