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What is Calima?

Posted on 27/02/2017 by Ian Sheldon


What is Calima?

If you follow our Social Media, or visit our web site you might find us mentioning a phenomena known as  Calima.

It seems that this year (2017) we are experiencing Calima more frequently.  But what is Calima and how does it affect the weather here in Lanzarote?

One of the most unusual weather phenomena we experience in Lanzarote is Calima.  

Calima is a southerly to southeasterly wind that hits the Canary Islands and can blow as far as South America.   Calima can last a few days depending on how the wind blows, although some can be more intense than others.   As the wind comes over the nearby Sahara desert, it picks up sand and carries it across to the Canaries.  The wind is hot and often consists of dust and sand that it has picked up on its travels, turning the sky orange and covering everything in its path in sand and dust.  The atmosphere becomes stuffy and cars and buildings are quickly covered in its sandy deposits. 

What part of Lanzarote is affected the most?

Lanzarote is only a small Island, so when Calima hits it tends to affect the whole island.  As the wind is generally quite strong during Calima, those on the coastal resorts might not see the full affects, but it is likely that they will witness the warmer winds and increased night time temperatures.  If you look out to see you can sometimes also see an orange line of sand being carried across the sky in the wind!

Is Calima dangerous?

Occasionally weather warnings are issued for Calima, but generally they are nothing to worry about and they simply pass after a few days. If the Calima is heavy, it is suggested that people with ill health and / or respiratory problems stay indoors.  We do not recommend taking part in strenuous physical activity, such as hiking, during Calima.

Although it is rare for Calima to bring day-to-day life to a stand still, it has been known to have happened.  Back in 2002 the Santa Cruz Airport in Tenerife was forced to temporarily close as visibility was less down to less than 50 metres, thanks to Calima.

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