A Calima is a weather phenomenon that occasionally occurs in the Canary Islands of Spain.
It’s when the wind changes to an Easterly or Southerly direction. This brings hot air and dust from the Western Sahara. You can normally smell / feel particles of dust in the air, which leave a layer of dust on outside surfaces. Our beautiful blue sky transforms into a haze ranging from a chalky white sky to a vibrant orange depending on the severity.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.
When we have a bad Calima, outside events are normally cancelled, and school lessons can be suspended. The advice is to stay inside and avoid exercise. Reason being is that some people have an adverse reaction to the dust. For those affected it can cause bad chests and headaches. Sometimes these winds bring unwelcome visitors who get blown off course. We’ve experienced plagues of locusts, ladybirds and dragonflies during the last two decades.
A Calima normally lasts for 1-3 days, typically they end with rain which helps to wash away the dust.
The Calima during 22-24 February 2020 was declared the worst example in the last 20 years. Visibility dropped to below 3000m which forced Aena to close the local airports. Flights were diverted to Portugal, the mainland of Spain and even back to the UK.