Saharan dust over Spain, Malta, Italy and the Balkans this weekend (February 24-27)

Major amounts of suspended Saharan dust are expected in the air over the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean and western Balkans under the influence of two low pressure systems later this week. The cutoff low, currently over central Morocco is advecting large quantities of Saharan dust suspended in the air with strong southerlies blowing across the Sahara desert in Algeria into the western Mediterranean in an event widely known in the region as the Calima. Yesterday’s and today’s satellite imagery shows high concentrations of airborne Saharan dust over the Alboran sea, the southern half of the Iberian peninsula and the Atlantic ocean of the coast of Portugal.

Saharan dust over the Iberian Peninsula and W Mediterranean today (February 22, 2017). Image: NASA Modis.

Reports by Meteo Algerie show towns in Algeria veiled in thick orange dust.

Very thick Saharan dust in Tlemcen, NW Algeria this afernoon (February 22). Photo: Meteo Algerie.

The current cutoff low over Morocco will keep advecting large quantities of dust into the western Mediterranean on Thursday and then central Mediterranean as the cutoff low moves eastwards together with the deep trough coming from the northwest.

Particularly high dust loads are expected across much of the western half of the Mediterranean, across Malta and Italy over the Adriatic and Ionian seas and into the Balkans, particularly Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania (see maps below).


Saharan dust load forecast by SKIRON model of the University of Athens.

Saharan dust can manifest itself in murky, yellowish to orange/brownish skies and very poor transparency. Some dust may be deposited from the air without rainfall, but a significantly larger amount will be deposited with rainfall over the central Mediterranean and the Balkans on Friday and Saturday. Look for yellowish Saharan dust on surfaces of objects, such as cars. Report on our Facebook page!