Greece transforms into Mars: Sahara dust casts orange hue

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A man walks downhill in the city of Athens, as the sky is shrouded in an orange hue.

ATHENS, Greece, April 24: Greece finds itself under a surreal yellow-orange haze as dust from the Sahara desert sweeps over parts of the country, captivating residents and triggering health alerts. The phenomenon, driven by meteorological conditions, has gripped southern regions of Greece, prompting authorities to issue cautionary measures.

The Greek meteorological service indicated that Tuesday’s weather patterns facilitated the movement of dust particles from Africa, resulting in heightened concentrations in the atmosphere, particularly in southern areas. However, relief is expected as the dust is forecasted to gradually diminish by Wednesday morning, with limited presence anticipated in the eastern regions thereafter.

Videos and images circulated on social media depict the stunning spectacle, with Athenians observing the unusual fog from vantage points near the capital. Some ventured out for evening strolls, capturing the vibrant orange scenes, reminiscent of a Martian landscape, as described by Greek Meteorologist Kostas Lagouvardos.

The migration of dust clouds from northern Africa to Greece is an intermittent occurrence, often leading to reduced visibility and respiratory concerns. Cyprus, situated in the eastern Mediterranean, has also been impacted by the dust, experiencing dimmed skies and compromised air quality.

NASA imagery captured the extent of the dust’s reach, with a notable presence over Cyprus on April 22, attributed to a low-pressure system over northern Africa. Forecasters anticipate the dust’s continued transit across the Mediterranean, affecting both Cyprus and Greece in the days ahead.

While Greece grapples with the dust phenomenon, Finland faces an unexpected challenge of heavy snowfall in late April. Unusually wintry conditions have disrupted daily life in southern Finland, with public transport services halted and travel delays reported across the region.

The unanticipated snowfall, exceeding 20 centimeters in some areas, has led to road accidents and logistical challenges, with maintenance crews working tirelessly to clear snow from power lines and transportation networks. Helsinki, the capital, witnesses residents navigating through thick snow and ice, an uncommon sight for this time of year.

Finland’s airport operator, Finavia, noted the additional challenge of overnight freezing rain, necessitating extensive de-icing measures for aircraft and runways. As the country grapples with the unexpected wintry blast, authorities urge travelers to exercise caution and allow for extra time during their journeys amidst the challenging weather conditions.

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