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Sahara Dust Storm Covers The French Alps In Sand As It Sweeps Across Europe

by : Emily Brown on :
Sahara Dust Storm Covers The French Alps In Sand As It Sweeps Across Europe
Sahara Dust Storm Covers The French Alps In Sand As It Sweeps Across Europe (Alamy)

The typically snowy slopes of the Alps have turned brown as Saharan dust moving across Europe settled on the mountain range.

Eerie images shared online show the sky coloured orange as a result of the bizarre weather event, which may impact the UK today, March 16.

The Met Office has explained the dust has 'pushed across Spain and France, into southeast England' after previously being lifted into the atmosphere by the strong winds of Storm Celia, which caused disruption in the Canaries before moving eastwards.

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The weather service explained the dust is 'mostly about 2km above ground level', but some deposits of the grainy substance may 'fall to the ground, especially during today's rain in southern parts of the UK'.

Saharan dust is made up of a mixture of both sand and dust that comes from the Sahara desert, which covers most of North Africa.

It can travel to other parts of the world as wind over the desert whips up dust and sand before carrying it elsewhere.

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"Once it is lifted from the ground by strong winds, clouds of dust can reach very high altitudes and be transported worldwide, covering thousands of miles," the Met Office explains.

After being gathered up by the wind, the dust falls along with raindrops, which collect particles of dust on the way down and deposit them as they land and evaporate.

This appears to have been what happened over the Alps, where social media users snapped images of the unusual scene.

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Alongside a video from the area, one person wrote: "Natural spectacle – Bloody rain. I was driving in the Alps today. We had some Sahara atmosphere. The wind brought sand from the Sahara, which is now raining down and coloring the region in Bavaria orange."

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Forecasters don't expect the dust to cause too much chaos in the UK, with Richard Miles of the Met Office telling the PA news agency: "Storm Celia over Spain is indeed pulling a dust cloud up from the Sahara, which could potentially reach as far as the south of the UK. We don’t expect significant impacts – the most likely would be on the cloudscapes at sunset but, as conditions are likely to be generally overcast and wet for much of the day, this is unlikely to amount to much."

"There are no air-quality warnings. People in the south might find a bit of dust left on their cars as the rain washes it out of the skies today," he continued.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University before going on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems. She joined UNILAD in 2018 and now works as Senior Journalist covering breaking news, trending stories and longer form features with a focus on human interest stories.

Topics: News, Weather, UK News, France, Twitter, Viral