Saharan Dust-pocalypse Blankets Europe


A significant intrusion of Saharan-desert dust has blanketed parts of Europe this week, with tremendous impacts on the environment, health, and power generation, according to Bloomberg

The sand and dust storm began on Feb. 5 in northern Algeria. Dust particles were whipped up into the atmosphere and eventually transported to southeast Spain and southern and central Europe. Already, snow-covered mountains on the Pyrenees and Alps mountains have been coated with dust, buildings and cars have been covered in dust, and the skies in some parts of Europe have been transformed into a yellowish-orange tint.

“We saw air quality values in the affected regions drop significantly,” said Mark Parrington, a scientist at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS). “The impact of the Saharan dust clouds is clearly visible for affected cities, such as, for example, Barcelona or Marseille.”

“Our forecasts, even those from Feb. 2, were very reliable in describing the size and extent of the dust plume as well as its development and direction,” Parrington said. Utility companies that use Copernicus data had to alter power generation during the dust storm as solar energy was dramatically reduced. Even airlines had to fly different routes because of low visibility. 

Pictures posted by The Guardian show the extent of dust that was dumped across Europe in the last couple of days. 

Skiers at the Alpine resort of Anzere, Switzerland, were greeted with dust-covered snow over the weekend.