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Saharan Dust Moves Across UK

Saharan Dust Moves Across UK
17 March 2022

A storm carrying Saharan dust is causing hazy skies and layers of orange-coloured dust across southern England.


What is Saharan Dust?


Saharan dust is sand and dust from the Sahara in North Africa. As winds blow dust and sand into the sky, if the winds in the upper part of the atmosphere are blowing north, the dust can be carried as far as the UK.

Once it is lifted from the ground by strong winds, clouds of dust can reach very high altitudes and be transported worldwide. As raindrops fall, dust particles are brought down to the ground, leaving behind a layer of dust when they later evaporate.

According, to the Met Office, Saharan dust is relatively common in the UK when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly wind patterns. 

In this case, Storm Celia, which has brought severe weather warnings in Europe, is the culprit of sights of orange skies and laters of dust being currently spotted.


Does Saharan Dust Affect Air Quality?


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

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service indicated that most of the dust reaching Europe would likely be concentrated over Spain, Portugal, and France.

At the time of writing, air quality in Spain is marked as “moderate” or unhealthy for sensitive groups” in certain western areas.


Where Has Saharan Dust Been Spotted in the UK?



Picture: a satellite photograph of Saharan dust over Cabo Verde on 3 March 2022 from Setinel-3 visible imagery. Image Credit European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 imagery

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 17 March 2022


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