Monster African Thunderstorm Hurls Enormous Haboob at Europe, 100 + Degree (F) Heat to Follow

An expansion of the Sahara Desert northward into Europe. A scenario that has long been a concern raised by scientists modeling potential extreme weather and climate scenarios related to human-caused climate change. And this week, it appears that Southern and Eastern Europe are going to get a taste of Sahara Desert-type weather conditions. It’s just unfolding a bit more dramatically than scientists at first anticipated.

Haboob the Size of England Ireland and Scotland Combined

(Monster thunderstorm explodes over Northwestern Africa last night, hurling a huge dust storm or Haboob northward toward Europe. Image source: The Met Office.)

Last night, a massive thunderstorm large enough to cover the England, Scotland and Ireland combined blew up over western Africa. The storm, larger than most hurricanes, drew in strong, hot winds from North Africa and the Sahara Desert. These winds bore upon them a great load of dust. Dust which the strong outflow of the storm then turned northward along a frontal boundary draped across the Mediterranean toward Europe.

As of early today, a large mass of dust with a front spanning approximately 600 miles covered sections of Mali, Algeria and Niger even as strong, hot southerly winds gathered to propel it northward. Over the next three days, this dust storm, or Haboob, is expected to rage across North Africa’s Algeria and Tunesia, leap the Mediterranean, roar across Central Italy, and vent its fury on the Balkan states and Poland before finally terminating in the Ukraine.

Dust Storm Forecast

(Large dust storm is now forecast to cross from North Africa and into Southeastern Europe. A high amplitude Jet Stream wave pattern and related strong ridge formation is providing the atmospheric slot that is propelling the dust further north than is typical. Image source: Barcelona Dust Forecast Center.)

From its origin over Northwest Africa, to its termination over the Ukraine, this anomalous dust storm is predicted to travel more than 2,500 miles. The storm will be borne by hot southerly winds. Saharan winds, some could say. And those winds will bring with them not only the choking dusts of North Africa, but also a taste of its heat.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, temperatures are expected to hit 95 (F) degrees over the next few days. In Bucharest, Romania, the mercury is expected to top 96 by Saturday. Sections of central Bulgaria are likely to see readings as high as 104 (F) by Saturday. Athens, Greece may reach 102 F temperatures on Saturday and 100 degree (F) temperatures Sunday. Further up the Balkan Peninsula, Larissa’s forecast is for 107 degree F temperatures by Saturday. All are readings in ranges about 15-20 degree Fahrenheit above average for this European region during this time of year. Record to near record hot temperatures that have more in common with typical North African climates than those usually associated with Southern Europe.

Southeastern European Heatwave

(Dust storms will travel north along a frontal boundary associated with a high amplitude wave in the Jet Stream over the next three days. To the east, sections of Southern and Eastern Europe are expected to experience record or near record heat. Image source: Pivotal Weather. Note, forecast above is in degrees Celsius for Saturday, June 18.)

Very large thunderstorms do tend to fire now and then over Africa. But the typical range is more to the south along a band that feeds into the North Atlantic Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. Over the past day, a big dip in the Jet Stream has run down from Western Europe and into North Africa. This dip created atmospheric instability that fueled the development of the massive thunderstorm and generated the strong southerly winds that are now propelling the resulting Haboob toward Europe.

As has been typical with climate change related high amplitude Jet Stream waves during recent years, the deep trough over Western Europe is encouraging a strong dipole associated ridge to form over Eastern Europe. And it is into this ridge that both the Haboob and the record heat are now rushing.

Africa-originating Haboobs and 95 to 107 degree heat blanketing large sections of Southern and Eastern Europe are not at all typical weather for mid to late June. But weather extremes associated with human-caused climate change will tend to make these kinds of North African hot air and dust storm invasions more and more likely as time progresses.


The Met Office

Barcelona Dust Forecast Center

Pivotal Weather

Tyler B Roys (Meteorologist)

Hat tip to DT Lange

Hat tip to Spike

Leave a comment


  1. – Well, with all of the ‘warm and moist’ (oceanic) air migrating northward and into the polar regions — the hot/dry dusty air now does the same here.

    “A high amplitude Jet Stream wave pattern and related strong ridge formation is providing the atmospheric slot that is propelling the dust further north than is typical.”

    I suppose that the weather is establishing new boundaries as it seeks balance.


    • The polar cell is shrinking, the Hadley Cell is expanding, the Walker Cell is getting shredded in the conflict between the expanding south and the shrinking north. Tally ho, indeed. But this is a mess.

      • Well put.

      • Reads like we’re experiencing global cellulite…

      • Hello Robert
        I’m translating this article for my French blog le Climatoblogue.
        Most of my readers are in France and other European countries.
        I’m sure they will appreciate your excellent work rich in detailed info.
        Link to your blog is on top of the article as always. Thank you.
        Have a nice day
        and keep fighting!

  2. Verrrry interrrestink… But vill it verk? Just cover that whole damn Europe with a 5 foot think blanket of African dust, preferably with scorpions in it… Especially France, if the dust is from Algeria and Morocco. Long overdue comeuppance: Africa gets her revenge on the empires. How about that: I turned a weather report into a political rant…

    • A good one too.

    • I’d prefer it if we didn’t use climate change to play the international blame game. Europe was doing its best to mitigate climate change when the rest of the world was dragging its feet. Europe is accepting huge numbers of refugees. And Europe is a shining example of equality when compared to say, America, for example.

      Regarding climate change, the message should be — we’re all in this together and we all need to work together to make things better. To help everyone.

      In addition, Spike, who contributed to the above article is from the UK. So, yeah, we’ve got friends pretty much everywhere who are helping out and whom we’d like to help out as well. So let’s build the team, not break it down.

      • “And Europe is a shining example of equality when compared to say, America, for example. ”

      • True ’nuff.

        • No worries. You’ve had it rough and that makes feelings raw. Let’s see if we can help to change that.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

         /  June 16, 2016

        And the French people are scarcely to blame for the insanity of their ruling elites. I don’t think anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialism has much of a following in France, or anywhere outside the Anglosphere, really.

  3. Reply
  4. – Not sure what this means:
    Michael Ventrice ‏@MJVentrice 21m21 minutes ago

    The Indian Ocean dipole has moved into its most negative state when looking at the previous 5 years.

    • So IOD has been called the Indian Ocean Nino cycle. Negative IOD means cool waters in the Eastern Indian Ocean and warmer waters near Africa. Positive IOD is the opposite. Negative IOD has been associated with a reduction in monsoonal rains for Central India. Neutral IOD is associated with somewhat lower rainfall totals.

      This forecast is one way of saying — the monsoon may be weaker than expected for some areas of India. If so, it will be the third year in a row of reduced monsoonal rains.

  5. Spike

     /  June 15, 2016

    Nice animation of jet stream from Met Office

    • Great animation here Spike. Man are these steep Jet Stream waves. Amazing peaks and troughs. The meridional variance is just nuts.

      I really appreciate the Europe perspective on all the weird global weather we’re having. You were a huge help in putting this post together. So a heartfelt thanks.

      • Spike

         /  June 15, 2016

        Cheers Robert much appreciated.

      • PlazaRed

         /  June 15, 2016

        From last weeks temps here of about 40/C, today we have 22/C in Southern Spain and down to about +14/C in the north with even some snow over the French Pyrenees.
        High winds of up to about 110 KPH or touching 70 MPH in some areas.
        Things look grim for the eastern Europe later this week with yet another dust intrusion.

        26/C over Oslo Norway make it hotter than Seville!

        After a winter of plentiful rains in Spain we are now waiting for the fire season, which has plenty of high level weeds and grass to consume especially if we also have high winds.

        Somewhat concerned about he heat that’s bound to be coming after all this ends or pauses at the beginning of next week.

        • That big high in the North Atlantic has given you guys a respite from the heat at the expense of sending some serious storms into Western Europe.

    • Cate

       /  June 15, 2016

      There’s that bluddy stationary low that’s been spinning its wheels for two weeks out here on the Eastern Edge. Stuck on the wrong side of that Greenland High, we’ve been shivering and soaking—not that this is unusual for June—we call it June-uary—but we had a whole July like this last summer—bah! The forecast is promising some Bermuda High weather by the weekend, local daytime temps here to rise from 9C to 27C.

      • Long range forecast also shows North Quebec on Baffin Bay also getting into the 80s.

      • In any case, welcome back, we’ve missed you. 🙂

        Sorry to hear about the nasty Juneuary…

      • Cate

         /  June 16, 2016

        Thanks, Robert. We’re all racing to keep up with you here, you know—you’re setting a blistering pace with this latest volley of posts. Whew! Well done and thank you for all the work, and all the care, you put into this project. 🙂

  6. Colorado Bob

     /  June 15, 2016

    11:05 UTC

    Dust storm over the Red Sea
    (afternoon overpass)

  7. Some say that we can leave climate change to be dealt with in the future when we are richer:

    Some (not all) of the problem in North Africa/ Sinai is too much wood cutting, followed by a couple of thousand years of overgrazing. Wood (Holm oak) was burned to soften rock for Egyptian Old Kingdom building, and later to smelt ore from King Solomon’s mines. Cumulatively this deforestation led to massive desertification. Desertification that results in haboobs.

    We are richer now, and we get to deal with previous (poorer) generation’s failures to take care of the environment -e.g., the Sahara and the Sinai. Are the modern Egyptians better off as a result of burning wood to cut the stone for the monuments? Is israeli agriculture better off because King Solomon got rich selling copper and bronze refined with the oak forests of the Sinai? Remember that Libya was Rome’s “Bread Basket” . The truth is that man can destroy a bread basket faster than he can replace it. The American Dust Bowl proved that. Recent haboobs in the southwest prove that we did not learn from history.

    Haboobs are not spawned over grassland or prairie. Haboobs are not spawned over pristine desert. (The desert “pavement” must be disturbed.) Haboobs are man made, usually by overgrazing, particularly along the southern edge of the Sahara where cattle are a symbol of wealth. (Wars can also disturb desert pavement.)

  8. climatehawk1

     /  June 15, 2016

    Tweet scheduled.

  9. macropod

     /  June 15, 2016

    I have enjoyed your daily posts for some time – a valuable source of otherwise hard to access news.
    However I wish that you would use international units of measurement rather than leave your international readers struggling with the otherwise obsolete Fahrenheit and Imperial systems.
    Many thanks

    • Noted.

      I mix them up and probably end up just confusing everyone. About 60 percent of my readers are US. So, yeah, unfortunately it will continue to probably be somewhat of a mix between Celsius and Fahrenheit depending on likely audience (scientists, vs US public, vs folks around the world).

      Though the content of this particular piece is Europe focused, if you mention the word Haboob, then you get a big US audience as well. So, unfortunately, there’s no way to please all comers…

  10. Athenian

     /  June 15, 2016

    The Greek town of Larisa is north of Athens and in the Balkan Peninsula, not the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). I would also like to urge you to begin using degrees Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit. Clearly you are beginning to pick up an international audience as well, to whom 42 sounds outrageously hot and 107 sounds like a basketball score. Thank you very much for this post, we’re about to get hit by this phenomenon.

  11. Athenian

     /  June 15, 2016

    Not sure if this is a repost.
    The Greek town of Larisa is north of Athens in the Balkan Peninsula. The Iberian peninsula is Spain and Portugal on the other side of the Med. I agree with the poster above about using Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit (there must be a script that will convert automatically for you. Really appreciate the post, we’re about to get hit by this phenomenon here in Greece.

  12. Athenian

     /  June 15, 2016

    Thank you and sorry for the repost.

  13. USA – DV 120F – 48 C

    Robert Speta ‏@robertspeta 11m11 minutes ago

    Its hot in the US SW. But Death Valley is taking it to the next level. Check out the fcst for Mon – Tue.

  14. USA – Colorado – Front Range – Boulder/Denver – heat vs snowpack – more heat is on the way and will cover NM to WY.

  15. The vanishing California snowpack.
    Stream flows will warm and have a negative impact on aquatic life.

  16. – Brazil — A ‘ground zero’ of industrialization dominating the environment, and where everything seems to be going wrong — politics, rain forests, displaced indigenous…
    – The Olympics a corporate logo advertising fest where ‘athletic’ performance is measured in the milliseconds or just the thickness of human skin.

    Exclusive: Studies find ‘super bacteria’ in Rio’s Olympic venues, top beaches

    Scientists have found dangerous drug-resistant “super bacteria” off beaches in Rio de Janeiro that will host Olympic swimming events and in a lagoon where rowing and canoe athletes will compete when the Games start on Aug. 5.

    The findings from two unpublished academic studies seen by Reuters concern Rio’s most popular spots for tourists and greatly increase the areas known to be infected by the microbes normally found only in hospitals.

    They also heighten concerns that Rio’s sewage-infested waterways are unsafe.

    A study published in late 2014 had shown the presence of the super bacteria – classified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an urgent public health threat – off one of the beaches in Guanabara Bay, where sailing and wind-surfing events will be held during the Games.

    The first of the two new studies, reviewed in September by scientists at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Diego, showed the presence of the microbes at five of Rio’s showcase beaches, including the ocean-front Copacabana, where open-water and triathlon swimming will take place.

    The other four were Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo and Flamengo.

  17. A photo of the point break at Rincon, Ca for Robert:
    SURFER Verified account ‏@SURFER_Magazine 23h23 hours ago

    Photo of the Day: Rincon, Santa Barbara. Photo: Woodworth

  18. Current wind patterns don’t actually seem to suggest a big dust storm heading up to Europe. But if you’re looking for an under-reported environmental news event, take a look at the sudden cluster of fires NW of Lake Baikal!,56.13,3000/loc=-129.024,59.510

  19. Genomik

     /  June 16, 2016

    Some of you may have heard of Burning Man, an art party held on a dry lakebed in the high desert of Nevada every year. They often have windstorms that whip up out of nowhere that deposit a fine dust on every surface. One year I was there and this guy comes running up with a crazy look in his eyes and says “Dust Storm coming, get to cover” I laughed at first as he looked sorta crazy/high but then looked behind him and saw a wall of dust like in the movies and within 10 minutes the winds went to ~70mph and you could not see your hand in front of your face. We all wear protective goggles there but its still very intense. You don’t want to get caught without goggles and dust mask as the dust is essentially gypsum/drywall and can be dangerous if inhaled too much. I wanted to get to our camp about 30 yards away and it took me 20 minutes while things were flying by like tents and anything not tied down. When I got to our camp I spent the next hour hammering tentmates tent stakes in properly and securing the camp. It was quite adventurous and sort of fun – for a week. Would not be so fun if we had to live that all the time. Burning Man is sort of practice for a possible climate change future!

  20. greenman023

     /  June 16, 2016

    I just flew into Fez at 7.00pm GMT.. We flew through the thickest cloud I have ever experienced.. the whole descent was in rain cloud; so thick that it was noticed by my fellow passenger.. (and I fly this route every couple of months).. we landed in rain (light drizzle) and in the three hour drive back to my mountain hovel in the Riff it rained the whole way…. no one here will begrudge the rain but rather poignant that I should now read this….

  1. Monster African Thunderstorm Hurls Enormous Haboob at Europe, 100 + Degree (F) Heat to Follow | robertscribbler | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

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