We’ve had the snow… now get ready for the blood rain! Saharan dust plume set to spark more chaos as it hits Britain from tomorrow
The Met Office has warned that blood rain will shock Britons if a Saharan dust plume hits the UK next week.
The dust, known as blood rain because of the red stains it leaves on windows and cars, is set to fall in showers from tomorrow – less than two weeks after Britain was hit by an Arctic blast followed by severe storms.
Last year, a similar phenomenon produced spectacular sunsets, but vehicles were left covered in a fine dust that traveled nearly 3,000 miles from the Sahara desert.
Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said: ‘Saharan dust is being drawn north to affect the UK in the coming days, following recent dust storms in North Africa.
‘You might just want to hold off on washing the car. And look out for some colorful sunrises and sunsets.’
The Met Office has warned that blood rain will shock Britons if a Saharan dust plume hits the UK. The Saharan dust can often produce stunning sunsets like this one in Edinburgh last September
A Saharan dust cloud seen from Waterloo Bridge in London in March 2022
The Met Office this week shared satellite images of a plume of Saharan dust moving out of Africa and into the Atlantic
Experts say the phenomenon is quite common in the UK, as it can occur several times a year when large storms in the desert coincide with southerly winds.
The Met Office explains that strong winds over deserts can whip dust and sand high into the air. “If the winds in the upper atmosphere blow north, the dust can be carried as far as the UK,” they add.
‘Once lifted off the ground by strong winds, dust clouds can reach very high altitudes and be transported worldwide, covering thousands of kilometres.
‘In order for the dust to get from up in the air to the ground, you need something to wash it out of the air – rain. As raindrops fall, they collect dust particles on their way down. When the raindrops then land on something and eventually evaporate, they leave behind a layer of dust.’
Parts of the UK were hit by a Saharan dust cloud in September. This produced hazy air and a thin layer of orange dust that covered many things outside.
It comes after the Met Office revealed that today was the hottest January day on recordwith temperatures reaching 19.6C in the Scottish Highlands.
The mercury reached a record high in the village of Kinlochewe, Wester Ross, the agency said. This beats previous records set in 2003, 1971 and 1958.
In a post on X, the Met Office said: ‘A new UK daily maximum temperature record for January has provisionally been set today at Kinlochewe where the temperature reached 19.6C.
‘This beats the previous UK January record of 18.3C set at Inchmarlo and Aboyne in 2003 and Aber in 1958 and 1971.’
The warmer weather is caused by southerly winds that bring soft air from Africa.
Sunrise over the River Thames and Tower Bridge in London today. The Met Office revealed today was the hottest January day on record with temperatures reaching 19.6C in the Scottish Highlands
The Met Office wrote on X the reading beats past records set in 2003, 1971 and 1958
The Met Office has issued three separate yellow weather warnings for wind in Northern Ireland and central and southern Scotland
The sky was more orange than normal in Cambridgeshire as a Saharan dust cloud arrived
As well as the possibility of setting the record, Kinlochewe was also covered by a yellow weather warning for wind and there were reports of bushfires.
Kinlochewe resident Lou Taylor told Sky News: ‘I was digging the car out of the driveway two days ago and its cocktail again today.’
She added: ‘We’ve been in the weather for 10 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. 64mph gusts with 19C heat, it was a strange one. It was so hot on the skin, it was hotter outside than it was inside.
‘I’ve never heard of wildfires in January, not unheard of, but it surprised us. The winds certainly fueled it. We found sand on the car, the Sahara dust.’
Fellow Kinlochewe resident Andy Jackson said: ‘Very strange waking up this morning, it felt very soft, and you could hear the wind roaring.’
A yellow warning is in place for places in Northern Ireland and Scotland with strong gusts of 60mph to 70mph expected in some areas.
It is in place until 8pm in south-west Scotland with people warning that journey times for bus and train services could be longer.
It comes as Britain is still feeling the effects of Storm Isha and Storm Jocelyn, which lashed the country with 80mph winds, causing major rail chaos, power cuts, school closures, flight cancellations and flooding.
It comes just days after the UK was hit by an Arctic blast. Pictured is heavy snow in Lairg, Scotland on January 18
Then Britain was hit by more storms. A fallen tree after bursting the banks of the River Ouse after storm Jocelyn on 24 January
A yellow 4×4 bakkie was washed downstream at Bishopdale Beck, near Thoralby, on January 24
Waves crashing at New Brighton beach, Wirral, amid Storm Jocelyn on January 24. Strong winds are expected in Northern Ireland and Scotland today, with coastal communities seeing gusts of 70mph.
The 70mph winds are likely to affect bus and train services today, with journeys taking longer, as well as delays for road, rail and ferry transport.
Coastal communities will see crushing waves on the UK coast, while temporary loss of power and other services can be expected.
A Met Office spokesman said: ‘We are going to see gusts of 60, maybe in some of the most exposed places of the north-west coast, gusts of 70mph.
“This combined with outbreaks of rain, increasingly persistent rain in the far north and northwest.”
Temperatures will remain mild across most of the UK today, staying in double figures, with many experiencing sunny spells with intermittent cloud this afternoon.
The UK has already experienced three storms this year – Henk, Isha and Jocelyn.
The Met Office said the primary cause of the recent storms is the jet stream – a fast-moving strip of air about five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface.
The jet stream blows from west to east at more than 100 miles per hour.
Met Office meteorologist Annie Shuttleworth said: ‘The jet stream has a huge impact on the weather we experience in the UK and during recent months it has been largely directed towards the UK and Ireland.
“These systems were headed towards the UK and eventually became storms due to the strong winds and heavy rain they brought.”