Brits across the country may have been a little surprised to wake up to a layer of dust on their vehicles this morning.
After a scorching few days, and warnings of a heatwave across the UK, temperatures dropped slightly overnight and scattered showers fell in various parts of the country.
However, some woke up to discover that the rain had also brought a blanket of dust and dirt with it, prompting some quick trips to the car-wash. Luckily, the Met Office has since revealed that there’s a simple reason why the rain is so dirty today.
It turns out that Saharan dust from North Africa is to blame.
Why is the rain so dirty?
According to a Met Office spokesman, a layer of Saharan dust has been lingering in the atmosphere around the country for the past few days. When combined with rain, this may have made the downpour look ‘dirty’.
However, the conditions are expected to settle in a few days.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Stephen Dixon, from the Met Office, said: “Saharan dust has been in the atmosphere around the UK in recent days. For Manchester, some of this has been rained out in early morning showers, which gives this ‘dirty’ look that some people will have noticed on their car this morning.
“The levels of Saharan dust are lower in concentration over the coming days, before moving away early next week.”
The Saraha desert covers most of the North African region. It’s not unusual for dust particles from the desert to travel hundreds of miles when picked up in the air. In the past, countries such as North America have even reported dust clouds that originated from Africa.
The Met Office also explained that dust storms are quite common in the UK and happen several times a year when there’s a sandstorm happening in the Sahara. It can sometimes impact air pollution.
Why is my car covered in dust and can it be damaged?
My car is covered in Saharan dust via some rain. Handbridge, Chester. pic.twitter.com/xW7Zqycz4b
— Andy Morse (@AndyMorse) September 7, 2023
If you’ve woken up to a dusty car this morning, then you’re not alone. Several people have taken to social media to express concern about finding their cars covered in dust.
“What’s with the dirty rain this morning? Car and everything in the garden is filthy,” wrote one person.
Another added: “Saharan dust, the car is caked in the stuff.”
As the Met Office has explained, this is a temporary phenomenon caused when dust drifts over from North Africa. The Saharan dust, also known as ‘blood rain’ due to its red colour, is lifted from the Sahara desert by strong winds and carried high into the atmosphere where it gets caught inside rain droplets. When it rains, the water droplets bring the sand particles back down to leave red dust on surfaces such as cars once the water has evaporated.
However, the dust can scratch cars. Auto Express magazine advises using car shampoo and a hosepipe, then wiping down with a chamois to prevent streaks. Car washes and jets can be too abrasive.