Understanding Calima: A Closer Look at the Sahara Dust Phenomenon Affecting the Canary Islands

Imagine waking up during your holiday to a warm sensation, noticeably hotter than what you’ve been used to, yet the sky above is clear of clouds. As you step outside, a surreal sight unfolds before you — the surroundings, from buildings to the natural landscape, are all draped in a fine layer of sand. This unmistakable phenomenon, known to locals and now to you, signals the arrival of Calima.

Palm trees in a Tenerife town, barely visible through the dense yellow haze of Calima.

What You Need to Know About Calima

What is calima?

Calima is a term used in the Canary Islands for a weather phenomenon involving dusty, warm winds from the Sahara Desert. It creates a hot, dry fog that can cause irritation to the airways, reduce visibility, and cover surfaces with fine dust.

How often is there calima?

Calima can occur at any time of the year but is more common during the summer months, associated with the hot air on the islands.

How long does calima last?

The duration of calima varies, lasting from a few hours to up to a week. Afterward, the air clears and visibility improves.

What is the weather like when there is calima?

During calima, temperatures usually increase significantly. While tourists may enjoy the warmer weather, especially in winter, staying outside for long periods can affect your respiratory system, especially for those with allergies.

What causes calima?

Calima is caused by dust storms in the Sahara Desert. High winds lift the dust, which is then carried over to the Canary Islands by south easterly winds.

Does calima make you feel sick?

Yes, calima can lead to symptoms like eye redness, respiratory issues, sore throat, a lack of energy, and headaches.

Can calima delay air traffic?

Yes, calima can sometimes delay air traffic, such as plane landings, since visibility can be significantly reduced.

Can activities get cancelled during calima?

Yes, activities, especially those on the ocean, can be affected during calima. The ocean may become rough, and the heat and reduced visibility can increase the likelihood of seasickness. However, some outdoor activities may still continue; it depends on the specific conditions and activities.

How to Prepare Yourself for Calima: A Guide to Staying Safe and Comfortable

During a Calima in Tenerife, the air fills with dust and sand from the Sahara, creating dry and visibility-reducing conditions. To ensure your health and comfort during these times, follow these essential steps:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink enough water to stay hydrated. The dry conditions of Calima can dehydrate you more quickly than usual.
  2. Limit Outdoor Exposure: Stay indoors as much as possible to avoid the dusty air. If you need to keep windows and doors closed to maintain indoor air quality.
  3. Protect Your Eyes and Skin: Wear sunglasses and sunscreen if you venture outside. Calima can cause eye irritation and increase your risk of sunburn due to higher UV radiation levels.
  4. Choose Appropriate Clothing: Opt for comfortable, light clothing and stay in the shade when outdoors. This helps protect your skin and keep your body temperature cool.
  5. Use a Face Mask: When the air quality is poor, wear a face mask outside. A mask can filter out fine particles from the air, protecting your lungs and respiratory system.

Essential Supplies:

  • Water: Ensure you have enough drinking water to stay hydrated.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from dust and increased UV radiation.
  • Sunscreen: Guard your skin against the sun’s rays intensified by the Calima.
  • Comfortable, Light Clothing: Choose breathable fabrics to stay cool.
  • Face Mask: A mask can help you breathe cleaner air when outside.

Embrace the Adventure: Enjoying the Canary Islands During a Sandstorm

A sandstorm doesn’t have to spell the end of your fantastic holiday in the Canary Islands. Whether you find yourself in Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, or Fuerteventura, Club Canary offers an array of enjoyable activities to ensure your vacation remains unforgettable. Here are some suggestions:

For those in Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, or Fuerteventura, Club Canary offers a variety of activities tailored to your location, ensuring your holiday joy is uninterrupted by the weather. From indoor attractions to special events that celebrate the unique culture of each island, there’s always something exciting to do.

Need More Inspiration for Canary Islands Activities During Bad Weather?

Visit our YouTube channel at Club Canary for more ideas and insights on making the most of your holiday in the Canary Islands, regardless of the weather. Discover activities, tours, and hidden gems across the islands that promise to enrich your stay.

Remember, a sandstorm might momentarily change your plans, but it can also lead to new adventures and experiences. With Club Canary, your holiday in the Canary Islands will always be filled with joy and discovery.

A highway in Tenerife under a yellow sky, with visibility reduced to about 50 meters due to Calima