The massive sandstorm engulfing Sahara Desert hit the Canary Islands leaving many tourists stranded, as lack of visibility disrupted flight operations. By Tanvi Jain
The famous dust storms of the Sahara Desert have taken a scary turn by moving all the way from the African continent to the Canary Islands in Spain. This time it’s so severe that most flight operations have been suspended to and from Gran Canaria, after a massive red sand approached the northern Canary Islands, and reduced visibility, thereby leaving thousands of passengers standard.
As per reports, many flights were grounded over the weekend. However, later, while the ones from Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, and North Tenerife were able to take off, those departing from South Tenerife continued to be grounded.
As many as 822 flights were disrupted, and schools were also closed, as the regional government estimated the winds to go up to 120 kmph. Spanish airport operator AENA reportedly confirmed diverting 19 flights en route Gran Canaria.
This phenomenon is not new in the Sahara Desert but this time the winds were gushing at a speed of 75 mph. Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres reportedly called it the worst sandstorm in 40 years and even termed it a ‘nightmare weekend’.
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Furthermore, not only did the sandstorm make the wildfires in the region worse, but local reports on one of the islands called Gran Canaria mentioned the air quality worst in the world. People were even advised by the authorities to stay indoors specially the ones suffering from chronic respiratory issues.
Canary islands are located off the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara, and the temperate climate makes it a magnet for tourists throughout the year. Last year, at least 13.1 million foreign visitors came to the islands, making it Spain’s third-most-popular tourist spot.