Sand storms in Aude are a regular occurrence this year. Today, we experienced the start of the fourth sand storm in 2021 alone at Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois.
This Sunday again, we have seen the sky turn cloudy and orange with dust and sand from the Sahara. The new sand storms in Aude are expected to last until Tuesday. Rain is expected on Monday, which means that the sand will actually come down in our region rather than move on further north.
In February and March we also had sand storms in Aude. In the Eastern Pyrenees, sky slopes were turned orange. At Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois, the coarse sand formed a layer on the newly stained decking of the roof terrace and had to be carefully removed.
The sand storms also bring a noticeable deterioration in air quality. Whereas the air quality in Pouzols-Minervois before the storm was excellent, for the duration the air quality is affected by suspended sand particles in the air. Local pollution, caused by wood burners and bonfires of waste in the vineyards added to the problem during earlier sand storms.
The wind is also expected to increase, with sand being blow across the full width of France from Spain. The Massif Central and the South-West don’t escape this time either. Earlier sand storms reached northern Europe, including the UK and Scandinavia.
Usually, sand storms are quite rare and take part in the summer. When the Sahara is hot and dry, dust and sand are picked up by high winds and blown across Spain and into France. This year, however, the sand storms have been unusually early and regular,. Cars in Pouzols-Minervois are once again covered in a layer of orange sand.
On the positive side, flora and fauna benefit since sand and dust are made up of nutrients favourable to the development of plants and phytoplankton.