October 15th, 2007

Let me see..

Sahara dust storms in Madrid

Madrid sometimes has dust storms -- dust that blows up from the Sahara Desert. The storms are getting more common.

As part of Blog Action Day, http://www.blogactionday.org, bloggers were asked to post about the environment today. Here's mine.

When I first moved to Madrid almost eight years ago, I discovered that the weather doesn't vary much: hot, dry, and sunny in the summer, cold and often drizzly in the winter. Violent storms are rare. I had lived in Wisconsin and Texas, where blizzards, tornados, thunderstorms, high winds arrive with regularity. But even without routine fury, the weather in Madrid isn't always good.

The NASA photo shows east winds carrying the dust over the Atlantic, but sometimes the winds blow north. The air in Madrid, already polluted by cars and industry, gets hazy. Reddish-tan dust coats the furniture. People with breathing problems are warned to stay indoors.

Each year, more and more dust storms arrive in Madrid. They also arrive more often on the Atlantic Coast of North and South America. That's because more people play in the Sahara with dune buggies and other big, motorized toys. Their wheels break a thin crust on the dunes, and winds can pick up more dust.

There are consequences. Here's two articles by NASA, if you're as fascinated by my weather as I am:

Desert Dust Kills Florida Fish http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast30aug_1.htm

Dusty Hurricanes

And speaking of hurricanes, two hit Spain in 2005, Wilma and Vince, the first ever. The weather is getting weird. What happens in the Sahara effects us all.