Canary Islands sandstorm: Brits face half-term holiday horror as Tenerife flights grounded

A sandstorm hit the Canary Islands on Saturday blocking out the sun in tourist hotspots like Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. Red dust has severely impacted travel in the area after being swept from the Sahara desert. Flights from Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma and North Tenerife Airports will be able to take off but those departing South Tenerife continue to be grounded.

The sky turned orange across the islands, prompting many tourists to describe the scene as “apocalyptic”.

The sandstorm was so huge that even NASA satellites picked up the extreme weather event from space.

Airports in the area have remained open for passengers, despite there being no flights to board.

Passengers posted photographs of people sitting on the floor waiting for more information.

Greg Horsman, 29, was on holiday with his girlfriend and his friends on a Tui cruise and was due to fly home to Manchester on Saturday evening.

However, they were forced to stay in Gran Canaria for another two nights due to the storm.

Another British tourist wrote on Twitter that they were “slightly alarmed by the apocalyptic looking sky”.

A spokeswoman for Tui said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to customers for the disruption caused by the adverse and changeable weather conditions in the Canary Islands on Saturday February 22 and Sunday February 23.

“The safety of our customers and crew is always our highest priority and we are working tirelessly to find the best solutions for all our customers.”

The sandstorm phenomenon is known as a Calima – which is when strong winds and rising air lifts up Saharan dust and carries it across the Atlantic.

The dense cloud of Saharan sand wreaks havoc for visibility and has even been known to reach as far as the Carribean.


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Spain has issued wind warnings for the Canary Islands tonight, amid forecasts showing gusts of up to 120km/h.

AEMET even suggested that the strong gusts of winds could be “hurricane-strength” on the summits of Gran Canaria and La Palma.

Weather experts claim this was the “worst Calima that the Canary Islands has seen for many years”.

The Calima sandstorm Calima is expected to “get worse” overnight, as it continues to dump more dust from the African continent.

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