All Flights Suspended as Spanish Canary Islands are Engulfed by Saharan Sand Storm

A woman covers her mouth during the sandstorm at Las Palmas Airport, Canary Islands on Saturday

After storms of red sand from Africa’s Saharan desert struck the Canary Islands on Saturday Night, Spanish airport operator AENA decided to suspend all flights in and out of Gran Canaria and all flights leaving Tenerife.

Spain’s national weather service also warned that winds of up to 75 mph are set to buffet the Canaries until Monday.

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A spokesperson for AENA said at least 19 flights to Gran Canaria had been diverted, so far hit nearly 230 arrivals and departures have been suspended.

Spanish budget airline Vueling said some of its services had been affected by the storms and said passengers should verify the status of their flights before going to the airport.

The Sahara storms have severely reduced visibility as red sand swept across the islands. At Gran Canaria airport, visibility was reduced to less than 400 meters.

Visibility was reduced to zero on Saturday night, far too dangerous for planes to take-off or land.

The regional government declared a state of alert and advised people to keep doors and windows closed across the archipelago, while authorities in Lanzarote’s capital Arrecife, cancelled all outdoor activities, including some carnival celebrations.


Located around 60 miles off the coast of Morocco, the Canaries are a popular tourist destination for northern Europeans in search of winter sun.


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