Monday, September 14, 2015

Cyprus sandstorm

Despite the shortening days and cooler nights, it remains hot in September. Last Monday, I'd done my usual quick weekly dusting and mopping of the main floor of our house first thing; by mid-morning it was as hot and humid as it had been for most of the summer.

By mid-afternoon, I noticed that the sky had become overcast. Was it going to rain? I felt quite hopeful for half an hour or so, before realising that the sky wasn't cloudy, but dusty. It's not unusual to have sandstorms in Cyprus; perhaps once a year we see a red sky with sand from the Sahara, which dissipates quickly, but leaves red dust everywhere.

However, the sky looked more yellow than red, and a quick Internet search revealed that this sand was from Syria. We assumed that it would be gone by the following morning.

On Tuesday Sheila and I went out to walk, but it felt much warmer than usual for the time of day, as well as very close and generally unpleasant. There was dust in the air, and visibility was poor. So we only did half our usual walk, and I didn't feel at all invigorated.

The dust then got worse. At nine o'clock, Sheila took this photograph, showing the sun as a pale white disc, trying to poke through the immense dust in the atmosphere:

Showing the sepia toned appearance of Cyprus during the sandstorm

Everywhere looked as if it was sepia-toned. We closed windows, used air conditioning to filter the air as well as to get cool. The online newspapers recommended that people stay indoors. Even the international media began reporting on this massive amount of sand in the atmosphere; apparently it was also covering Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.  People with asthma were told to stay indoors, and we heard reports of people being taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.

By Wednesday, it was a little better, but not much. State-run schools were supposed to start after the lengthy Summer break, but the government kept them closed. By Thursday it was better still; Sheila and I managed our usual walk first thing. Although the Salt Lake trail looked very dusty, it was easier to breathe near all the plants.

On Friday the secondary schools opened, and we heard that the dust levels were down to almost acceptable levels. By Saturday we were seeing blue skies again. Even people who have lived in Cyprus for thirty years or more said that they have never been such a major and long-lasting sandstorm.

I felt very sorry for the tourists who had come out for a week of relaxation and sunshine, only to be told they had to stay indoors, with no sun to be seen.

Neighbours had hosed down their patios and cars several times during the week; I did water our plants, and did a quick rinse of the patio and outside stairs once, but that was just to stop more sand being trodden indoors.

Keeping the windows closed didn't stop a heavy layer of dust descending just about everywhere; I made finger-marks deliberately to show how bad it was. And everything had been dusted just last Monday...

dust on equipment after the Cyprus sandstorm

This morning, it took me nearly an hour and a half to dust, vacuum and mop... three times as long as it usually does!

I cleaned the kitchen appliances and counter-tops several times during the week, and the dining table. However, on a couple of mornings I saw that, although the cats are very good about not going on the table during the daytime, they aren't so good at night...

Paw prints from our naughty kittens, evidence that they were on the table

Whoever would have guessed....?

Alexander the Great curled up with Joan of Arc, the picture of innocence

1 comment:

Anvilcloud said...

What a mix is the cat on the right. My goodness.