An astonishing meteorological phenomenon occurred in Morocco on October 20. In several regions of the kingdom, the sky has suddenly taken on the color of fire, plunging the population into an apocalyptic atmosphere worthy of a doomsday scenario—expert explanations and reactions from bewildered Internet users.
Moroccans are still talking about it, exchanging images profusely on social networks. In the middle of the day on Tuesday, October 20, Casablanca, like other regions of Morocco, was plunged into darkness.
A huge dust storm suddenly descended, tinting the air with a dark orange-yellow twilight light. Rare fact: in broad daylight, cars drove slowly through the alleys and avenues of the economic capital of the country, headlights on, as if the sun had not yet risen or had set earlier than usual. Fog, debris, and clouds, everything has mingled in the sky to eclipse the star of the day, creating a Martian atmosphere worthy of a Dantesque science-fiction novel or film.
As in Casablanca, in several cities and provinces of the country, from the Al Haouz region in the south to Tangier in the north, this surreal setting has further heightened a health crisis atmosphere. The gloom of which is the same everywhere. In many localities in these large disaster areas, Internet users reported that even the birds stopped singing within half a day.
Others dwelled on the despair of stray dogs and cats who, terrified, ran in all directions to seek refuge. Humans are described in various publications as ghostly figures drowned in dense and blinding dust.
Dazzled by the palette of orange hues that replaced the usually azure sky, many people could not help but immortalize the appalling spectacle that nature offered them. The Web found itself momentarily inundated with their striking photographs. At the same time, a rain of comments fell on social networks. The dismay at what some described as the apocalypse, referring to certain cult films, quickly gave way to humor.
“Official information: the next Blade runner is being shot in Casablanca, Morocco,” this Internet user quipped.
In the absence of official explanations on the causes of the orange coloring of the sky or on the trigger for this dust storm, speculations have flared via the various virtual platforms. Each Internet user went there for his explanation, often very unscientific.
According to Moroccan Meteorology, strong gusts of wind accompanied by dust plows in a weather alert issued on Tuesday, October 20. Irony: this alert has been classified as an “orange level”.
What is it exactly?
According to Moroccan expert, Mohamed Hanchane, a climatologist and teacher-researcher at the science faculty of Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah University in Fez. For him, it is a meteorological event certainly spectacular, but classic.
“Last Tuesday’s atmospheric state was marked by the appearance of a plume of dust that came from a flow of hot sub-desert air. On the surface, we witnessed a low-pressure cell in northern Portugal that extended to Morocco. This minimum atmospheric pressure brought with it hot and dusty winds from the desert expanses of southern Morocco,” explains the professor.
Regarding the orange hue that colored the sky on this famous day of Tuesday, Mohammed Karrouk emphasizes that the interaction of dust with humidity, heat, and light can give these colors.
“It is an optical phenomenon which is linked to radiation. The light reaching us from the sun has passed through layers of the atmosphere that contained suspended particles that day. The solar radiation, obscured by the dust wall, has therefore undergone a phenomenon of diffusion in the presence of fine dust particles.”
“Being half-opaque, these particles absorbed low-wavelength colors and only allowed hues that belong to the yellow and orange spectrum to show through. The more the air is polluted and loaded with fine particles, the more the color will be accentuated,” explained by Mohamed Hanchane according to Sputnik news.
The day after the storm, the orange had disappeared from the sky, but a thick layer of dust had immediately covered everything. Its fine particles were transported in the dense cloud that had swept across the country, making the air difficult to breathe.
Despite everything, no official instructions have been given on the danger of this air pollution. This silence exasperates Hanchane. According to this expert, this dusty weather significantly degrades the atmosphere’s quality and can seriously damage health.
“This phenomenon is harmful, especially for people who suffer from respiratory diseases such as asthma. In the current pandemic context, this situation can even worsen patients’ cases affected by the coronavirus,” warns the Moroccan specialist.