Sahara dust storm hits Spain, France now moving to Portugal

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A massive dust storm over Europe from the Sahara desert made it difficult for large parts of Spain to breathe and gave sweepers in France and Portugal extra work to remove the film of dirt from cars and buildings.

On Wednesday, the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said it had tracked massive dust masses, which have “degraded air quality over large parts of Spain, Portugal and France.”

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By the time Spain bore the brunt of the storm, dust was blowing, dumping ocher-coloured drops on cars in Paris and coating Lisbon’s buildings with fine powder after it mixed with falling rain.

National Weather Services of Spain asserted that the dust particles could reach as far north as the Netherlands and western Germany.

Madrid’s sky remained a dirty grey, with visibility down for many parts of the country. Municipal scavengers cleared the dust from the streets of the city. Curious pictures of the dust surfaced on social media, including images of reddish snow on a mountain range near Madrid.

In the south of Spain, dust mixes with rain to produce clay. Spain’s weather service spokesman Rubén del Campo said the most significant amounts of wind-borne dust would accumulate in Spain’s southeast and central regions on Wednesday afternoon.

Del Campo reiterated that “Then the air will gradually begin to clear, although some floating dust will reach the Canary Islands (in the Atlantic Ocean) over the weekend,” Del Campo said.

To the relief of farmers, the storm drawn in African dust is forecast to bring more rain to Spain’s dry fields and descending reservoirs in the coming days.

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