14 Feb, 2024 @ 10:50
1 min read

What is ‘blood rain’? All you need to know about Spain’s ‘calima’ weather phenomenon before it blows in from Africa tomorrow

CARRY ON CALIMA: Sahara sand calima returns to Spain’s Andalucia
CARRY ON CALIMA: Sahara sand calima returns to Spain’s Andalucia

SPAIN stands on the cusp of being drenched in ‘blood rain’, an atmospheric spectacle known as the calima.

The calima has the remarkable effect of casting a reddish hue over the Spanish skies, and once the rain has settled it leaves a fine red coating over cars, streets and the land in general.

Sometimes inadequately translated as ‘haze’, it is  a rare weather phenomenon marked by a dense concentration of dust, sand, and ash from the Sahara Desert trapped among rain clouds.

However, it can also be produced by less natural causes, such as the burning of fossil fuels, industry or agriculture.

Unlike fog, which consists of water droplets, the calima comprises solid particles which can travel vast distances carried by the wind.

It can also have the added effect of potentially altering local climate conditions by trapping heat in the atmosphere.

The origins of the calima are multifaceted, involving natural processes such as sandstorms in arid regions and volcanic eruptions, as well as human-induced factors from factories and agricultural activities. 

A column of blood rain is forecast to hit Spain

READ MORE: ‘Blood rain’ is coming to Spain: New DANA will bring the weather phenomenon to Andalucia and beyond this week

The phenomenon is particularly notable in Spain’s Canary Islands but is not confined to desert areas alone; volcanic regions, agricultural and industrial zones, and areas prone to wildfires are also susceptible.

The presence of calima can have wide-ranging impacts, from health concerns – especially for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions – to environmental consequences. 

The fine particles in the calima can infiltrate the lungs, leading to respiratory issues, while also affecting air quality and visibility, thus impacting outdoor activities and transportation. 

Furthermore, the calima’s ability to retain heat in the lower atmosphere can lead to higher ground temperatures, affecting local weather patterns.

As this dust-laden air makes its way to Spain from the Sahara, understanding the nuances of the calima becomes paramount for residents and visitors in order to prepare and protect themselves. 

Recognising the factors that contribute to its formation, the areas most affected, and the potential health and environmental implications is essential for local and health officials.

READ MORE: Water cuts latest: These are the towns in Spain’s Malaga that have introduced restrictions due to the ongoing drought

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]

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