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Saharan Dust Falls Across Northern Europe

By Sean Breslin
Published: March 31, 2014

Photo via Sat24.com

Saharan dust is dragged up from Africa and into northern Europe in this satellite image posted to Sat24.com.

When soggy, green Northern Ireland gets coated by red, Saharan dust, the locals get slightly perturbed.

The dust is being pumped northward into the United Kingdom as winds aloft flow from the south to southeast instead of the normal west-to-east direction, says weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman. An expansive blocking area of high pressure is stretching from eastern Europe to southern Greenland, and that's working in tandem with a strong southward dip in the jet stream centered just west of the Iberian Peninsula.

As a result, northern Europe has turned hazy with Saharan dust filling the air in some areas, according to a BBC report.

(PHOTOS: NASA Captures Weather Disasters From Space)

The dust lingers in the air until something can knock it down – rain, usually. When rain arrives, it mixes with the dust particles and falls as "dirty rain," covering cars and angering residents, writes 4News.com.

Even U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was affected when his car was covered by a dusty residue, according to a Metro report.

It could be several days before rain knocks the dust out of the air. The dust could reach Iceland before the pattern changes.

"This upper-level pattern may persist through mid-week before the flow over Africa becomes more westerly," Erdman said.

Saharan dust reaching another continent isn't as strange as it may seem. The red dust sometimes makes an appearance in the United States.

Saharan dust is commonly transported westward across the tropical Atlantic Ocean in the summer months during hurricane season, Erdman said. This produces hazy sunrises and sunsets in the Caribbean Sea and even, occasionally, into parts of Florida.

MORE: Incredible Views of Dust Over the Atlantic Ocean

NASA

Dust over the Atlantic Ocean on July 30, 2013.


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