Massive sandstorm strands travelers in Canary Islands

Travel
(CNN) — Travelers in the Canary Islands face continued disruption Monday morning following a massive sandstorm that blew in from the Sahara Desert over the weekend.
The popular holiday destination, which is part of Spain but lies off the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara, was struck by winds known as “la calima,” which blow huge amounts of dust and sand across the Atlantic Ocean.

Airports were closed due to the storm, which made it impossible for planes to take off or land.

Queues formed at Santa Cruz de Tenerife airport Sunday.

Queues formed at Santa Cruz de Tenerife airport Sunday.

Andres Gutierrez/AP

“Industry professionals cannot remember such adverse meteorological conditions for air travel in the Canary Islands,” tweeted Spanish Transport Minister José Luis Abalos Sunday.

Travelers were stuck over the weekend as flights were canceled, before conditions improved overnight Sunday and flights resumed Monday morning, according to a tweet from the Transport Ministry.

Disruption continued into Monday.

Disruption continued into Monday.

Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

However airport operator Aena tweeted Monday that passengers should check the status of their flight with their airline, as travel could still be disrupted.

Many British travelers were affected as families tried to get home at the end of the half-term school vacation.

The islands are a popular holiday destination.

The islands are a popular holiday destination.

Desiree Martin/AFP/Getty Images

Stranded British tourist Greg Horsman was due to fly from Gran Canaria to Manchester on Saturday evening but was stuck for two extra nights, the UK’s PA Media news agency reported.

“It’s frustrating. We’re just ready to be home,” Horsman told PA.

All open-air sporting and recreational events were canceled by the regional government, which declared an alert Saturday.

Ruled by Spain since the 15th century, the Canary Islands are geographically closer to Africa than Europe.

The main islands of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura attract windsurfers and hikers as well as those looking for a beach holiday.

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