The Dust Storm

Brown dust in the air

The Canaries just had a dust storm.

It’s not unusual to have dust from the Sahara; it happens whenever we get a southwest wind. But in 30 years of living here I’ve never seen anything like this.

One reason the Canary Islands have world class observatories is that the air is usually clean. From our balcony we can see Tenerife more often than not, and that’s about 100 miles away. On Saturday the next village disappeared into the murk.

I rather like mist. I find it mysterious and romantic, but I didn’t like this at all. Perhaps it was because it was brown, or perhaps because it felt all wrong to lose visibility when it was 28 ºC and very, very dry. Either way I had a constant feeling of menace – not so very strong but it lasted for three days and set my teeth on edge. It felt rather like walking towards Mt Doom.

And there was almost no wind at all. Meanwhile the observatory at 8,000ft had wind gust of 128 km/hr and one of the MAGIC telescopes was damaged.

The MAGIC II telescope on Sunday

It’s confusing, partly because the MAGIC reflects things upside down, like a spoon. That’s reflected sky at the bottom of the mirror. When I saw the webcam image I thought about 5 mirror segments had been blown right off, although I’ve since heard that they’ve just been yanked right out of alignment. (This is good; it should make repairs easier.)

And then on Sunday afternoon the dust fell out of the sky. There was so much of it that everything needs cleaning. Enough that you could see footprints outside the door.

Footprints in Sahara dust

This article has 1 Comment

  1. Somewhat breezier in the El Pas / Los Llanos area over the last couple of months. Our entrance gates were damaged beyond economic repair even before the latest storm when gusts reached 92 km/h. Trees, walls and lamp posts blown over; a good number of cars suffered significant damage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.