What is calima?

You have probably heard of it and if you haven’t heard of it, you probably have seen it and wondered: what is the calima? Calima is a meteorological phenomenon which is characterized by a warm and dry wind that carries sand and dust from the Sahara Desert. Calima can reduce visibility, cause respiratory problems and damage crops.

How and when does a calima happen?

The calima occurs when high pressure systems over the Azores and the Sahara interact, generating strong winds that can reach up to 80 km/h. This phenomenon can last for several days and is most frequent during the winter months, from November to March.

Should I be worried?

The calima affects not only the visibility but also the air quality, as the sand and dust particles can reach high concentrations and irritate the eyes, throat, and lungs of sensitive individuals. People with respiratory problems, such as asthma and bronchitis, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of Calima. I am a sensitive person myself, so when there’s a strong calima announced I try to stay indoors with my windows shut. I experience a soar troat and burning eyes, but above all; strong allergies.

What to do when there’s a strong calima?

To protect themselves, residents and visitors are advised to avoid outdoor activities and stay indoors as much as possible. They should also keep windows and doors closed and use air filters to improve indoor air quality. Wearing masks and using nasal sprays can also help to reduce the risk of respiratory problems.

A lot of times, when there’s simply a mild calima, you will notice the sky is just not very clear, but it won’t bother you. If you are sensitive though, it’s probably better to stay indoors and postpone your hiking plans! Apps you can use to monitor the quality of the air are BreezoMeter and AirVisual.

I was using IQAir to track calimas. They have apps for Android and iPhone and they have a website also.
Mircea | 02-10-2022

Overall the air quality in Gran Canaria is pretty good and the government will issue warnings when there’s a bad haze coming.

Apps to track the calima

In the app Windy, check for the dust mass layer. IQAir gives detailed information about air quality, same as Breezometer. AEMET and El Tiempo are reliable Spanish weather websites. And then ofcourse there’s the AQI, World Air Quality Index.

For more details about these apps, check this article about the best apps to track/forecast the calima.

The calima of February 2020

In February 2020 we’ve had the worst calima in over 40 years. Airports were closed, parts of carnaval were cancelled and it was recommended to stay indoors. This does NOT represent an average haze, so don’t worry too much about it. The pics are pretty awesome though, check them below!

February2020 – The worst calima in 40 years, as seen from space
February 2020 – Las Palmas with and without calima
  • calima Gran Canaria carnaval 2020
  • calima Gran Canaria 2020
  • calima Gran Canaria 2020
  • calima Gran Canaria 2020
  • calima Gran Canaria 2020
  • calima Gran Canaria 2020

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