the spectacular haze that covers Spain has only just begun

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No, it is not a filter. It’s dust. Although we have been warning for days of the arrival of strong dust-laden winds, no one imagined that we were going to experience one of the most spectacular and widespread haze in recent years. The entire southeast of the country experienced incredible orange sunsets and, already this morning, much of the center of the plateau has dawned the same color. What’s going on? How long is it going to last? It is dangerous? Welcome to one of the great weather shows of the year.

What is haze? ‘Haze’ is the name given to the meteorological phenomenon characterized by the high presence of very small solid particles suspended in the atmosphere. They dull the air, reduce visibility and color the environment, although only sometimes do they color the sky as spectacularly as these days. There are two types of haze: that produced by forest fires, pollution or other events of this type; and the natural. The one of these days is of the second type.

Although the Sahara is responsible for 70% of all the dust in suspension in the world, in Spain we have a direct line with that mass of sand that sleeps in the heart of Africa. As we warned yesterday, during Monday and Tuesday of this week, strong easterly winds were expected in areas of the eastern half of the Peninsula. Those winds brought “surprise”: the dust of African origin that has been staining the entire southeast of the country since yesterday (and that today also affects Madrid and the center of the peninsula).

How long will it last? According to experts, it seems that the spectacle of orange skies has only just begun. Although it will probably lose intensity as the hours go by, the dust in suspension is expected to continue advancing from south to north and reach its maximum at dawn on Wednesday.

It is dangerous? Can it affect health? As is logical, the abundance of dust in suspension worsens the quality of the air and can cause mild respiratory problems (irritation of the mucous membranes, nasal obstruction, itchy eyes or dryness of the upper respiratory tract). Especially in people with previous ailments.

If you want to know the state of the air you breathe, we tell you how you can do it

However, and although with the Celia storm the current haze should not last long enough to generate persistent or prolonged problems, we must be alert. In the face of a significant deterioration in air quality due to coarse particles (PM10), the recommendations are to close windows, wear a mask outdoors and use air purifiers indoors (if necessary).

After the haze, comes the mud. As the Peninsula is an environment especially given to this type of waves of African dust, we know well what the next step is. It only takes those high winds to intersect with a good North Atlantic storm for cities to appear buried under a surface layer of mud and sand. That is, just the weather scenario we have right now.

Image | Keith Williamson

No, it is not a filter. It’s dust. Although we have been warning for days of the arrival of strong…

No, it is not a filter. It’s dust. Although we have been warning for days of the arrival of strong…

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