Calima unveiled: the mystical desert mist of Tenerife

Discover the captivating phenomenon of Calima in Tenerife, where the desert whispers to the island through a mystical mist.

In the heart of the Canary Islands, Tenerife experiences a meteorological phenomenon that both mystifies and challenges: the calima. This weather event, specific to various regions but particularly striking in Tenerife, paints the sky in hues of orange and beige, blanketing the island in a surreal, desert-like atmosphere. In this article, we’ll delve into what calima is, its causes, recent trends, the current situation on Tenerife, and offer advice for travellers encountering this unique condition.

What is Calima?

Calima: the mystical desert mist of Tenerife

Calima occurs when Saharan dust and sand are lifted by high winds and carried over the Atlantic Ocean to the Canary Islands. This dust-laden wind, originating from the Sahara Desert, is capable of travelling hundreds of kilometers, engulfing islands in a fine, sand-filled mist that reduces visibility and significantly changes the quality of the air. The phenomenon is particularly prevalent in the winter and spring months but can occur at any time of the year.

Why Does Calima Appear?

Calima: the mystical desert mist of Tenerife

The primary driver behind calima is the high-pressure systems over the Sahara that propel eastward winds towards the Canary Islands. These winds pick up fine particles of sand and dust, which are then suspended in the air as they travel across the ocean. Climate change is believed to influence the frequency and intensity of calima events, with rising temperatures potentially increasing the desiccation of the Sahara and, consequently, the amount of dust available for transport.

Recent Tendencies

Recent years have seen a noticeable increase in both the frequency and intensity of calima events affecting Tenerife and the broader Canary Islands. Scientists link this trend to broader patterns of climate change, including heightened desertification and altered wind patterns. These changes suggest that calima could become a more common and severe occurrence in the future.

Actual Situation in Tenerife Regarding Calima

Tenerife, like its neighbors, has experienced significant calima events in recent times, leading to public health advisories, disruptions in air traffic, and impacts on outdoor activities. The dust can exacerbate respiratory issues, reduce air quality, and even affect temperature levels, making the island warmer. Authorities regularly monitor air quality and issue warnings during severe events, advising residents and visitors on how to protect themselves.

Recommendations for Travellers

For those planning to visit Tenerife or currently on the island during a calima event, here are some recommendations:

  • Stay Informed: Follow local news and weather forecasts for updates on calima events and heed any advice or instructions from health officials and authorities.
  • Limit Outdoor Activities: Reduce exposure to the dust by limiting time spent outdoors, especially strenuous activities that increase your respiratory rate.
  • Protect Your Respiratory System: Use masks, particularly those designed to filter out fine particles, to protect your lungs from the dust.
  • Keep Windows and Doors Closed: To minimize indoor dust accumulation, keep your accommodation’s windows and doors shut.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your body naturally flush out any dust particles you may inhale.
  • Eye Protection: If you must go outside, wearing sunglasses can help protect your eyes from irritation.

Calima is a phenomenon that adds a layer of complexity to the natural beauty of Tenerife. While it can create challenges, understanding this phenomenon allows travellers to prepare and adapt, ensuring their visit remains enjoyable and safe. As we witness changes in our climate, the importance of awareness and adaptation becomes ever more critical in our travels to such unique destinations.

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