Morocco was hit by the storm Bernard, which brought strong wind gusts, thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, and sand-covered roads. Significant damages were reported, mainly in the country’s northwest, from Casablanca to Agadir.
Concern is mounting in the kingdom. Wind and sand gusts reached speeds of up to 100 km/h in some areas, leading to numerous accidents on the highway between Marrakech and Agadir. Despite weather alerts issued by the Directorate of Meteorology on October 21, many Moroccans took to the roads, particularly as it was a weekend for returning from vacations. While authorities have not yet provided a precise count, poor visibility due to the sandstorms caused severe accidents. Images show roads littered with wrecked cars involved in chain collisions.
On the coast in cities such as Casablanca and Rabat, trees were uprooted, and the sky appeared orange. Adverse weather conditions led to the diversion of several flights heading to Marrakech. No departures from Casablanca’s Mohammed V Airport were possible between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday. The situation has not yet returned to normal. Meteorologists estimate that the storm will leave Morocco by Tuesday, October 24. In the meantime, authorities recommend caution, especially for motorists.
How can such a violent phenomenon be explained? Is it likely to recur? To answer these questions, RFI spoke with a climate expert, Professor Mohammed-Said Kerrouk, from Hassan II University in Casablanca, and a former member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Mohammed-Said Kerrouk said that what happened is the usual progression of the climatic system during this autumn period. There is a movement of the entire system from the northern hemisphere to subtropical areas. This mechanism is typical for this time of year, but the energy data is not.
In recent years, particularly this year, including since May, we have been experiencing unusual heatwaves and temperatures. This unusual temperature is an immediate consequence of the Earth’s increased energy balance. As a result, a significant amount of energy has accumulated in our atmosphere, leading to an energy shear, creating strong winds at high altitudes, which manifested at the surface as the development of Storm Bernard.