Spanish authorities have recommended people wear face masks and avoid outdoor exercise.
The region of Spain classified by its national air quality index as “extremely unfavorable” – its worst rating – has expanded since the start of the European event on Tuesday to include most parts of the south and the center of the country, including Madrid and other major cities such as Seville. .
Authorities have recommended people wear face masks – still widely used due to the pandemic – and avoid outdoor exercise, especially for people with respiratory illnesses. Madrid emergency services said that so far there had been no increase in calls for care for people with respiratory problems.
Visibility was reduced for much of Spain. Municipal cleaners swept dust from the streets of the city. In southern Spain, dust mixed with rain to produce mud.
Curious photos and videos of the dust have appeared on social media, including snowboarders cutting beautiful white lines through red-tinged snow in the Pyrenees.
Ruben del Campo, spokesman for Spain’s meteorological service, said the greatest amounts of airborne dust will accumulate Wednesday afternoon in southeastern and central regions of Spain.
“The air will then start to clear gradually, although floating dust will reach the Canary Islands (in the Atlantic Ocean) over the weekend,” Del Campo said.
To the relief of farmers, the storm front that brought in the African dust is also expected to bring more rain over the next few days to Spain’s parched fields and descending reservoirs.
In Switzerland, skiers cut orange snow on the alpine slopes of Pizol resort near little Liechtenstein, while reddish-hued skies hovered over places like Payerne Air Base near Lake Neuchâtel.
The national weather service, MeteoSwiss, said aerosols regularly carried dust away from the Sahara and the one that started on Tuesday is the third on record this year and the most dramatic. The light from the sky was tinged with a yellowish orange in Geneva, as meteorologists had predicted the sky would remain colored for several days.
The Serbian capital woke up on Wednesday covered in a thick layer of yellow-colored dust that covered sidewalks and parks after light rain fell overnight.
Belgrade, which is already one of the most polluted capitals in Europe due to Serbia’s power stations and coal factories, recorded “hazardous” air quality, according to AirVisual. Environmentalists said it was the result of the dust cloud, but also because of Serbia’s long-standing pollution problems.
The dust cloud reached London and south-east England on Wednesday, and some of the dust settled on car windows and windscreens as rain brought the particles down to ground level.
“It’s about as strong as it gets, until Saharan dust moves across the UK,” said meteorologist Alex Burkill of the Met Office. “The rain carried the dust from higher up in the atmosphere and brought it to the surface, which is why people see it on their windows.”
He added that most people would see no health impact, but some might experience eye irritation or a sore throat.