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.
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.
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.
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.