Saharan dust and wind storm over Central Europe

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Saharan dust settles over Austria and other Central European countries over the Easter weekend. According to Geosphere Austria, a large cloud from the African continent once again reached Central Europe with the prevailing southerly wind. “The peak will be reached this Saturday,” a geosphere expert said, as published by the Austrian Press Agency. Up to 1,200 milligrammes of Saharan dust per square metre were in the air.

There was a storm warning for the entire Easter weekend in parts of Austria. Vorarlberg, Tyrol, and parts of Salzburg were particularly affected, but strong winds were also expected further east in Pongau, Lungau, and Upper Styria.

Switzerland and Germany also felt the Saharan dust. A violent Föhn storm swept across the Alps. Gusts of wind with top speeds of 190 kilometres per hour were measured above Andermatt in Switzerland late on Friday evening, as reported by the weather service SRF Meteo on Saturday. Added to this was the yellow-reddish Sahara dust on Saturday, which clouded visibility in large parts of Switzerland. According to a meteorologist, 180,000 tonnes of Saharan dust hung in the air over Switzerland on Saturday, according to model calculations. That was an unusually high amount. Normally, the wind brings half as much to Switzerland.

Due to the squalls, lifts had to be temporarily switched off in some Swiss ski resorts on Friday. On Thursday, chairlifts in the Italian ski resort of Breuil-Cervinia, opposite Zermatt, were already swaying dangerously, as a video from the private Italian weather service Il Meteo showed.

“The Sahara dust has already arrived (in Germany, editor’s note), as can be seen from the yellowish haze in the air,” said Christian Herold, a meteorologist at the German Weather Service (DWD), on Holy Saturday. The phenomenon can be observed in many parts of Germany, but the highest concentration is in the western part of the country. The desert dust can cause the sunshine to appear milky and cloudy. The dust will still be visible on Easter Sunday. On Monday, a cold front should then allow it to clear, said Herold.

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