The calima in Malaga Port. / Salvador salas

Aemet says this calima dust cloud in Spain is the worst ever because of its intensity

People with respiratory problems are advised to wear a face mask outside because the Saharan dust can affect their health

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

“The calima we are experiencing today is historic. It is very unusual to see such a high concentration of dust in suspension and I can’t remember it ever being this intense before,” says Jesús Riesco, the director of the Aemet Met Office in Malaga. He says there are no official statistics for this dust which blows in from the Sahara desert, but although it is not unusual for Malaga to be affected by it, "we never usually have this much”.

“The southwesterly flows of troughs from north Africa mean that this part of the península does get affected by dust from the Sahara at certain times of year, but this intensity is very rare,” he explains.

At present, the calima is turning the snow in the Sierra Nevada orange and covering the eastern side of the country and the Balearic Islands. It may even reach the Pyrenees.

The wind direction and the conditions in the Sahara Desert have been ideal for the air to fill with suspended dust, and that is what is now causing the problem.

Health

Apart from the dirt, the worst consequences are for health, because of the poor air quality. The Junta de Andalucía will be releasing the figures on Wednesday, but it looks as if the high concentrations of PM 10 and PM 2.5 particles are having a negative effect on the air in general. People with asthma and allergies are advised to wear a mask in the street.

Another risk to health is that because the rainfall is more like mud it is slippery and may cause people to fall; it also reduces visibility, and increases the risk of accidents.

The muddy rain and calima will continue to affect Malaga on Wednesday. The rain will become heavier tonight, especially in the western half of the province, says Aemet, but on Wednesday it will move towards the east.