The president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, said on Monday that the Canary Islands hope to begin to recover normalcy after “a nightmare weekend”, as a result of the worst Calima (Saharan dust storm) “in 40 years.” Speaking on breakfast television Los Desayunos de TVE, Torres said that the archipelago is still on alert for calima, but conditions are gradually improving, especially on two of the four fronts that have kept the islands in an exceptional situation: the strong winds and the bad state of the sea.

Dust storm closes Gran Canaria airport twice

“It has been a nightmare weekend. We had already been warned on Friday, but there have been four phenomena at once: bad sea, wind, fires and calima, which has greatly affected daily life on the Canaries,” he stressed. This Sunday alone, more than 800 flights to & from the Canary Islands were canceled or diverted, with thousands of passengers affected, on a weekend already traditionally of large air traffic on the islands, over the Carnival “puente” (bridge) weekend.

The president of the Canary Islands regional government pointed out that he expected that the decreased wind force will also bring less dust from the Saharan coast of Africa to the islands. “We have awoken this dawn a little better. In fact, on the islands of La Gomera, La Palma & Tenerife, the situation has gotten much better. What remains worrying are Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and La Graciosa,” he said.

Queues await taxis as airport on Gran Canaria closes

No calima in the last forty years has been this intense, as has been experienced this weekend on the Canary Islands, Torres said, which has underlined the multiplier effect that has been added to winds and forest fires (which could not be attacked from the air due to low visibility). “Hopefully conditions will improve and air traffic will be normalized tomorrow on Tuesday” he said.

As for the fires, Torres explained that the more than 1,000 people evacuated due to the fires declared on the north of Tenerife have been returning to their homes and, “little by little”, the same will happen in Tasarte and Tasartico, on Gran Canaria

From that last fire, he added, he worries how it is affecting the Inagua Nature Reserve, “a space of high ecological value”, but with two items of “good news”: at night some rain fell and it is expected that helicopters and fireplanes deployed from the peninsula can start operating soon. “If today the air crews can fly, which yesterday they could not do because of the strong winds, the situation will get better,” he said.