Thought the clouds of Saharan dust blown in by Hurricane Ophelia to the UK was just “kinda cool”? Did you turn to your friend and say, “It’s like a movie or something… an Instagram filter from 2011”? Big mistake. You should be talking about bodily symptoms.
That’s right, that orange sky you’re ogling over poses a genuine risk to your health…
… if you have asthma. Or just general breathing difficulties.
Asthma UK has advised that any sufferers should be wary of the weather.
[ooyala code=”tvYzEyZDE6OQaRVaubJh3M-Gp-kbHakP” player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ auto=”true” width=”3840″ height=”2160″ pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l”]
Sonia Munde, Head of the Helpline at the organisation, said:
We are deeply concerned about the toxic air from Saharan dust that Hurricane Ophelia has churned up, as this could pose a severe risk for the 5.4 million people in the UK who have asthma.
Winds picking up dust and particles in the air could trigger potentially fatal asthma attacks.
When a similar dust storm happened in April 2014, Asthma UK found a third of people told us they’d had an asthma attack as a result of the pollution and 84 per cent said they had used their blue inhaler more than usual.
We urge anyone with severe asthma to check weather forecasts and stay indoors where possible.
Everyone with asthma must make sure they take their reliever inhaler [usually blue] everywhere with them and continue to manage their asthma with their preventer inhaler [usually brown].
The worst of Ophelia’s impact will be felt in the west of Ireland, but the UK isn’t likely to suffer as much from the damaging winds.
Despite this, most of the country will be able to notice the ex-hurricane’s effects if they look towards the heavens. What you’re looking at up there has come all the way from the Sahara.
[ooyala code=”dsMTEyZDE6WE-DojWIsUEZR5Uo1s_28i” player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ autoplay=”true” pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l”]
The Weather Channel’s Dr Dave Reynolds explained:
Winds were strong over Iberia on Sunday, which has resulted in dust from there being raised and then blow to the UK on a strong south to south-westerly flow. Some of the dust may be particulates from the fires, although I think regular fine-grained dust would account for the majority.
This is a result of Ophelia to the west of Portugal (on Sunday) and high pressure over the western Mediterranean, although it doesn’t necessarily need a hurricane to do this (a regular, north Atlantic low would be just as good – so long as all the other conditions are met).
Furthermore, and importantly, the cold front of Ophelia moved across southern Britain this morning and was very weak – this meant there was not much rain to wash the dust out.
The winds are still southerly, despite the cold front coming through. Usually winds would veer and fresher (=clearer) Atlantic air would come in behind a cold front – but this won’t happen until later today. As fresher air moves in later today, expect the colouration to gradually fade.
— Dr Dan Shepperd (@dan_shepperd) October 16, 2017
The dust from the African desert has been carried by Ophelia and has spread across the country, giving us this orange hue in the sky.
Ophelia is expected to hit the UK very soon, with varying weather warnings across the nation.
Amber wind warnings have been issued for parts of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with yellow warnings in the south-west and north-west of England.