Saharan dust heads for the UK

A wind storm that developed over northwestern Africa on the 3rd and  4th April left a legacy of Saharan dust in the atmosphere over parts of Western Europe.

Gusty winds reached 50mph at times over southern Morocco and western Algeria on Sunday and Monday, with the shifting sands of the Sahara thrown into the atmosphere as the sandstorms affected much of the region.

By midweek, the low pressure system that brought poor visibility to parts of Saharan Africa moved away south and weakened – but only after sand particles had been lifted into the air.

South easterly winds over the Sahara took the air borne sand particles eastwards and off the Atlantic coast of Africa. Once here, the Saharan dust was eventually blown by south westerly winds that often cross the Atlantic Ocean and towards the UK.

With conditions over the UK mainly settled thanks to high pressure over the country, dust carried from distant southern shores is stalling over the southwestern approaches of the British Isles at a height of between five and ten thousand feet.

The satellite animation above shows the dust as a bright pink blog over Africa at the start of the sequence, which then moves north to the west of Portugal.  At the end of the sequence the dust stretches from Biscay to Brittany and into some western parts of the UK, with the highest concentrations passing over Cornwall. This is expected to give vivid sunsets here for a time until the dust disperses over the coming days.

Satellite image showing the Saharan dust to the south west of the the UK at 1100 GMT on Friday 8th April (source: Dundee SatelliteReceiving Station)

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One Response to Saharan dust heads for the UK

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