Saharan dust turns seaside Spanish town brown
Apocalyptic scenes reemerged in Spain as another round of dust left the landscape covered in a rusty hue at the end of last week. In the picturesque seaside town of San José, buildings and cars once vibrant white or colorfully painted were all stained the same shade of brown as the dust tainted everything in sight.
The plume of dust, which arrived from Africa's Saharan Desert, was pulled northward thanks to the counter-clockwise flow of air around a storm centered south of the Iberian Peninsula.
This storm has led to frequent downpours and incidents of flooding across the country, hazards that AccuWeather meteorologists were sounding the alarm about earlier this past week. The dust, when combined with the recent rainfall, made it appear as though it was raining mud in some locations.
The coastal town of San José, Spain, pictured on a beautiful sunny day and then seen covered in brown from the most recent Saharan dust event.
The muted visuals amid the dusty conditions were a stark contrast to the typically vibrant shades of color along the country's southern coast.
A local official in the city of Córdoba, located farther inland in southern Spain, stated on Thursday that city workers had "a little more experience" on how to deal with dust and mud after the whole city was left dirty for the first time in history by the initial plume of Saharan dust that arrived around the middle of March, Euro Weekly News reported.
This first wave of dust-laden air clogged the sky, tinged snow red in France, and significantly reduced air quality across the region. Air quality levels reached "dangerous" levels during this event, which Spain's national weather service described as "extraordinary."
This late-week round of dust was far less expansive across Western Europe when compared to the mid-March event. Air quality levels have also been significantly less severe in terms of potential health effects.
Air quality across Spain as of 9:50 a.m. EDT Sunday, March 27, 2022. (AccuWeather)
Although this is the second time in a month that the region has been blanketed with dust, experts say this is not all that unusual for the region.
Each year, strong seasonal winds blow more than 100 billion tons of dust out of North Africa, and a few times a year strong winds from the south blow the dust north towards Europe, according to NASA.
For some, last week’s round of dust was quickly washed away as thunderstorms pounded portions of southern Spain Friday night. Just to the west of San José, the city of Almería recorded 2.67 inches (68 mm) of rainfall in just a few hours Friday night. This led to some street flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.
Small hail also peppered portions of the region as frequent lightning flashed and thunder rumbled.
Despite some rainfall to end the week, residents may still have to contend with additional dusty days ahead.
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