21 Mar, 2024 @ 16:01
1 min read

Why does the sky look orange in Spain today? All you need to know about the ‘calima’ and ‘blood rain’ weather phenomenon

THE skies above some parts of Spain have taken a red hue and the ‘blood rain’ gathers overhead – so just what is the fabled 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.

This photo, taken by an Olive Press reporter in Marbella at 16.30 today, shows the remarkable reddish hue the sky takes when air from the Sahara desert blows over Spain

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.


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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