‘Blood rain’ is the reason your car is covered in dust - here's where it came from

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 6:44 am
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 9:00 am
Dust coating a car

by Matthew Mohan-Hickson

You may have noticed a layer of red dust on your car in recent days. The muck and dirt has been covering vehicles across the UK.

But what has caused the sudden appearance of red dust?

If you’ve notice a mucky layer on your car, you have a phenomenon called ‘blood rain’ to thank for it.

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What is blood rain?

While it may have a rather terrifying name, bringing scenes from a horror movie to mind, blood rain is not as scary as it sounds.

BBC weather says that developing showers could cause Saharan dust to be washed out of the skies and in turn cause a layer of red dust to land on your car.

What is Saharan dust?

Saharan dust is a mix of sand and dust from the Sahara, the vast desert that covers most of North Africa.

When strong winds blow across the desert they can whip up dust and sand sending it high into the sky before carrying it from the upper part of the atmosphere and transport it in the direction it is blowing – which is sometimes towards the UK.

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.

In order for the dust to get from up in the sky down to the ground, you need something to wash it out of the sky - rain.

When heavy rain is forecast to fall, you may notice more dust on your vehicle.

When the raindrops fall, they collect particles of dust on the way down. Then when the raindrops land on something and eventually evaporate, they leave behind a layer of dust.

Paul Hutcheon, Met Office forecaster, says, "We usually see this happen several times a year when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly winds to bring dust here."

In certain weather situations, Saharan dust can also affect air pollution and pollution levels.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Portsmouth News