Massive Saharan Dust storm affecting western Europe

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Published on 17 March 2022

The dust was brought to Europe by storm Celia, which has caused a warm air mass from North Africa to reach Europe. The passage of the air mass through the Sahara Desert explains the visible presence of dust in the air. Spain was especially affected by the dust cloud: the storm, which reached its peak between 15 March and 16 March 2022, has been described by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency (AEMET) as “extraordinary” for its intensity and extent. The suspended dust has heavily impacted air quality in several areas, to the point that the residents in affected communities have been advised by the local authorities to avoid staying outside for long periods of time. It has also impacted visibility in most of the country, affecting air travel, causing the cancellation of seven flights from the Canary Islands.

This image, acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites on 15 March 2022, shows the Saharan dust cloud engulfing the skies over France, Spain and Portugal.
Click here to view the image at full resolution.

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) forecasts have been showing the large plume of dust approaching western Europe since 11 March and continue monitoring dust concentration and air quality, using satellite and in situ observations to provide continuous and reliable information.

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