Brits warned Canary Islands' holiday bliss marred by intense Sahara sandstorms

A calima seen from Los Abrigos in Tenerife
-Credit: (Image: Getty)


The Canary Islands are often considered a slice of paradise on earth but they are facing an unusual and worsening weather phenomenon that threatens to mar their appeal.

The 'calima', or haze, sees sandstorms engulf the islands in a thick cloud of hot, dusty wind blown in from the Sahara. And although the storms are becoming less frequent, they are growing in intensity.

This means if your holiday is disrupted by a calima, it could be more severe than ever before, reports the Express.

Since 1980, the islands have experienced 483 episodes of calima, equating to an annual average of 24 affected days. Each episode typically lasts just short of two days.

However, there's a silver lining for Brits planning a summer getaway to the Canaries: the most intense storms usually occur in January and February

So, if you're jetting off to Tenerife, Gran Canaria or any of the other islands, you're likely to avoid the year's worst storms. However, the Canaries government has already issued pre-alert status for calima four times this year.

Sandstorms are causing more intense calimas - or hazes - over the Canary Islands
Sandstorms are causing more intense calimas - or hazes - over the Canary Islands -Credit:Getty

This doesn't guarantee that your flights won't be affected. In February 2020, a severe calima led to the closure of all eight airports across the archipelago, causing travel chaos and disrupting holiday plans.

If you find yourself caught in a calima, experts recommend staying indoors with doors and windows closed, drinking plenty of fluids, and wearing face masks if venturing outside.

Weather guru Jim Dale, who's set to release his new book Surviving Extreme Weather, has issued a stark warning.

He said: "It's not that heat and dust in suspension will be there on every occasion, but any airstream moving west of the Sahara (normally) will carry the risk.

"We are living in a changed world and visitors would do well to take note of the local warnings and what to do if caught up in such conditions."

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