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Cars are covered in dust as storm Celia blew sand from the Sahara desert over Madrid, on March 15, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Madrid: Cars, buildings and streets across Spain were covered in red Saharan dust on Tuesday, as desert sand was blown across the Mediterranean sea.

The weather phenomena usually only carries sand to parts of the southern coast of Spain, making Tuesday’s occurrence a rare event. The dusty wind is expected to remain in the Iberian Peninsula until Thursday and the Spanish government has declared the quality of the air as extremely unfavorable in some parts of the country. The authorities are advising against outdoor activities and asking people to keep windows shut.

The Saharan dust is also extending to South America, according to Mark Parrington, senior scientist at Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

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A red and orange tinged sky is seen over the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain. Image Credit: AP

Spain’s national air quality index qualified as “extremely unfavorable” — its worst rating — the capital and large parts of the southeast coast.

The sky in the capital and other cities was tinged orange.

Emergency authorities have recommended citizens use face masks if they go outside, and avoid outdoor exercise.

The wave of hot air has also affected the air quality in areas north of Madrid, as far west as in the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.