When is a fog not as fog? – Answer, when it’s a Calima

This year it seems as if we haven’t had as many calimas as normal. We expect these on a semi-regular basis and those of us who live here don’t mind one of the side effects which is temperatures rise a few degrees. Particularly in winter locals start to feel chilly when temperatures drop to around 20°C. Those sort of temperatures may sound wonderful to someone on holiday but locals are starting to feel the nip in the air and once November arrives, we begin to dig out our jumpers, boots and even fur-trimmed jackets.

Briefly, a calima is a strange weather phenomenon that affects all the Canary Islands. It generally raises temperatures and brings low visibility from air-borne dust. The dust is actually sand from the Sahara that is blown over by the wind and due to location, the south coast usually experiences the brunt of a calima while the north is relatively protected, possibly because of the mountains. This satellite image shows us directly in the line of fire.

The calima we had in June 2012 was the worst I’ve seen since moving here and lasted for a whole week. I took photos at the time, meaning to write about it, but got waylaid, possibly because the heat affected the brain. That particular calima brought exceptionally high temperatures and while we experienced 37 and 38 degrees further inland in Concepción people we know were complaining it was over 44°C.

It got to the point where you broke into a sweat within minutes of getting out of the shower, it affected people’s breathing and in my case, my eyes felt full of grit. My little dog, Caña suffers from dry-eye and I had to keep her indoors and treat her eyes several times a day.

Every morning after a virtually sleepless night we were met with the sight of a brown blanket of sand shrouding the usually lovely view from our patio. As the day progressed this haze just got thicker and thicker.

Thankfully most of the calimas are not this bad but as I look from my patio down to Los Cristianos and Las Americas they are hazy and shimmer like a mirage. On checking the thermometer which sits in deep shade it is showing 32°C, so it looks as if we are in for ANOTHER one, hopefully, it won’t last long and normal weather will return to our little bit of paradise.

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