The Big Calima in Fuerteventura and the Canary Islands

On Saturday 22nd February 2020 a big Calima hit the Canary Islands and Fuerteventura was directly in the firing line. It lasted for three days and was the worst Calima for 40 years some authorities are saying.

What is a Calima? A Calima is a recognised named wind which blows from the Sahara desert westwards towards the Canary Islands. This wind, which is normally very strong, brings with it lots of yellow/orange dust that turns the sky the same colour and reduces visibility substantially.

Calimas hit the Canary Islands quite frequently, probably 5-6 times a year on average, but they are normally pretty mild compared to this one and only last a day or two. The Calima in February was very different. Visibility was down to 500 metres in places and you could actually taste the dust in the air. It was not very healthy for most people but even worse for sufferers of Asthma and other respiratory diseases.

what is a calima. Fuerteventura calima.
This was a satellite photo of the start of the Calima (courtesy of Nasa)

By the afternoon of Sunday 23rd February all Canary Island airports were closed, first to incoming flights and then all flights. Many were diverted when only a few hundred miles from the islands and went to Faro in Portugal, Malaga in Spain and Agadir in Morocco. Passengers at the airports in the Canary Islands waiting for flights home were either put up in hotels or spent the night at the airports.

Fortunately it was much less intense by Monday 24th. The air was visibly clearer and the wind had dropped. By the following day things were back to normal.

Now the big clean up begins. Not just outside but inside too. The dust is so fine it gets in through the smallest gaps in windows or doors.

You can watch my video below to see what the Calima in Fuerteventura was like.

Another recent article about the weather here in Fuerteventura – Is it always windy in Fuerteventura?

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