Strange Orange Haze Covers Athens as Dust Blows from Saraha Desert

Due to dust storms that have rolled in from the Sahara, a striking orange glow has settled over Athens. Officials in Greece have described the incident as one of the strongest of its kind since 2018.

In late March and early April, comparable clouds swept over parts of France and Switzerland.  This phenomenon is called “Calima” in some regions of Europe.

Because of a conglomeration of factors, clouds of reddish and orange sand from the Saharan desert make their way into Europe.

Strong winds have the potential to carry mineral dust from the North African Sahara desert into the sky. The prevailing winds carry these dust particles northward during certain weather conditions, eventually reaching Europe. A low-pressure system that forms across the North Atlantic has the potential to transport air masses carrying dust from the Sahara to central Europe via the Mediterranean. The dust gets its orange-reddish hue from minerals like iron oxides. Approximately 60 to 200 million metric tons of mineral dust are released annually by the Sahara.

Hot temperatures and dust have made the air oppressive, particularly in southern Greece. Dozens of wildfires were reported by the fire department. Local sources indicate that a kindergarten and residences had to be evacuated when a fire started near a military facility on Crete, the country’s largest island, where temperatures rose above 85 degrees.

As a low-pressure system passed across Libya, it sent hot, powerful south winds, heavy sand, and dust over Greece and the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean.

On Wednesday, a cold front carrying fresh air from the west persisted, causing dust concentrations to be focused farther east. By the end of the week, the Eastern Mediterranean will return to normal temperatures and cleaner air.

Although the frequency and severity of Saharan sand storms over Europe fluctuate, spring and fall are when they are most typically seen.