Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sand Storms: The Revenge of Tatooine

I am still trying to figure out why I am not entirely healthy yet, ten days into my cold. Up to now, I've been blaming it on the lymph node infection I've had, assuming that a common cold will be much more devastating if infection is involved.

My friend Stavroula (OSU represent!) has indicated that it might be something else. Now, it's no secret that Athens is grossly polluted and breathing the air can be bad for you. But apparently, we've got more to worry about than just the Athenian air...the Evil Dust Cloud of Death coming in from the Sahara.
Dust cloud approaching Italy from Africa in 2005.

Dust cloud blankets Cyrpus in 2008.

Apparently the dust clouds rolling in off the Sahara reach Athens several times a year. It seems, in fact, that these dust clouds have quite an atmospheric impact, reducing rain and maybe even cutting down on the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic. Unfortunately, it seems that the dust clouds also carry pollution. For example, in 2000, a Saharan dust cloud brought radioative rain to Thessaloniki...radioactive as in straight-from-Chernobyl-style-radioactive.

I haven't heard anything in the news about a dust cloud in Athens, but according to another OSU representative, Dimitris, one of these very dust clouds is now in Crete, where the air is thick and opaque. I assume that this outbreak is a result of a dust cloud documented on March 1st down in Chad, which has since grown in size and moved our unfortunate direction.

Dust cloud in the Sahara, March 1st.

Huge dust cloud swirls over the Mediterranean yesterday, March 6th.

I was appalled to look out my window yesterday and see that Athens looked like this:

So maybe this is the reason that I can't stop blowing my nose, and my head feels like a cotton plantation, and I can't hear anything out of one ear. I can blame the desert for all my woes.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you're not all the way better yet. I hadn't considered the Sahara dust cloud as a possible reason, but you might be right.

For the record, we did have one over Athens. The only proof you need is that the rain yesterday left red mud on everyhing.

Hope you manage to feel better soon!

Claire said...

Those sand clouds are amazing! There was one over Santorini when I was there for Easter in the CYA days. It was like the end of days - the light was literally red and opaque. very weird. I'll scan the pics eventually to show you. Hope you feel better soon!

J. Harker said...


May I have your permission to read this blog entry to the class I'm lecturing next week? It's for the Ancient Medicine class and we're talking about how plague comes from tainted air, and this is just too good to pass up. Plus, you've got pictures!

So... Pretty please?