Dust Clouds Returning to Greece, Scientists Warn



Port of Chania, blurred by the African dust.
Port of Chania, Crete blurred by the African dust in March (file photo).

Greece’s meteorologists are warning of a return of the wind-borne Saharan dust which blanketed many parts of the country last month.

The Athens National Observatory’s weather service has said Heraklion on Crete will again take the brunt of the dust clouds on Thursday, while the Greek capital will be enveloped on Friday and Saturday.

Scientists say Athens will face a high of 130 micrograms per cubic meter of air; Heraklion, on the other hand, is facing nearly twice that, 240 micrograms, by Thursday night.

Low pressure weather in Africa is being blamed for the phenomenon which prompted doctors to urge the elderly or those with respiratory illnesses to stay indoors last month.

Last month’s images from Crete showed some people wearing gas masks, as local landmarks — such as the Koules fortress in Heraklion — were obscured by billowing clouds of dust.

From the northern leafy suburbs to the Acropolis and the historical centre and all the way south to Piraeus, the Greek capital was also blanketed by a thick orange cloud.

The Athens Observatory said that one of the largest-ever transfers of desert sand to Greece from the Sahara took place on Thursday, March 22.

The African dust covered the entire country and concentrations were the highest in the last 10 years, according to the observatory’s meteorological service.