(Athens, Greece) – According to the Hellenic National Meteorological Service, or HNMS, a dust cloud coming from Africa will linger over several places in Greece, including parts of Athens and Southern Greece. The country is no stranger to these dust clouds, which originate in North Africa in the Saharan dessert. Massive winds pick up dust from the surface of the dessert and bring them into the jet stream. They carry through to various parts of Europe, including Greece. Sometimes, they stay up in the atmosphere but often, they enter the atmosphere, diminishing both visibility and air quality. It can also bring damage to buildings and other belongings. Although it can happen at any time of the year, it’s especially common in May, right as tourist season is beginning. Some places are plagued with the dust so badly that they often need to make repairs before the tourists come.
Over the weekend, the dust cloud will be especially concentrated in Athens and also places in Southern Greece, such as the island of Crete. Crete often attracts these dust clouds. Back in March, for instance, a massive dust cloud from the Sahara Desert, paired with massive wind speeds, affected the island. These dust storms regularly occur in Greece, especially in the spring. This also effects tourism because people often find that the dust harms visibility and can prevent people from going outside and enjoying the sun and great weather, which is something that Greece is famous for.
Whenever the dust arrives, Greek officials warn against spending too much time outdoors, especially those who have respiratory illnesses. This weekend is no exception. Usually, after a few days, the dust storm moves away from the country and the air returns to normal. This weekend on Crete, the dust is predicted to be at around 50 mg per cubic meter, which definitely exceeds the safety limit. This means that nearly everyone should avoid prolonged exposure, if possible. The dusty air can cause asthma attacks, coughing fits, and trigger allergies. In susceptible individuals the problem could escalate into illnesses such as bronchitis and even pneumonia.