We know all too well how temperamental UK weather can be. One minute the sun is shining and we’re complaining about how humid it is, the next it’s pouring down with rain. And as the climate crisis worsens, we’ve seen even more extreme weather in the past few years, from winter heatwaves to ferocious winds.
Well, it doesn’t end there. There have been forecasts for a type of ‘blood rain’ to arrive in the UK this week. Don’t worry, it’s not actual blood from some mysterious ozone creature. It’s just a colloquial term people use for rain that has picked up dust.
Forecasters at the Met Office have used satellite imagery to find the recent yellow tinge to some rain is ‘likely due to dust picked up in northern Africa, before falling with the thundery downpours’.
Blood rain occurs when high concentrations of red-coloured dust or particles mix into rain, making it look red as it falls. However, Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen explained to Stylist that it’s rare to see proper rain like this in the UK.
According to the Met Office, blood rain can be seen when ‘strong winds or storms whip up dust and sand. As this becomes airborne it can get caught up in atmospheric circulation, where it can be carried for thousands of miles. Eventually, the dust will either fall out of the sky due to gravity or will be caught up in rain clouds, where it mixes with the water droplets. When these fall as rain the raindrops could appear red.’
You may remember back in March, after a few days of stormy weather, many of us were left with windows, cars and garden furniture stained by a reddish dust. But it was even more evident in places like Madrid, where they saw rain fall containing a high amount of dust from the Sahara.
To clarify, the Met Office says the chances of full-on blood rain in the UK are low. Paul Gundersen said: ‘It’s not uncommon to have some Saharan dust particles mixed in with the rainfall when the source air comes from northern Africa as we have seen in recent days… However, over the next few days, the air over the UK will have a more marine origin, which reduces the chances of dust being mixed in with the rain and giving that bit of a yellow haze.
‘Although there’s a chance of some dust being rained out in the south-east early next week, any amounts of dust would be relatively small and would likely be soon washed away.’
So while we might not see true blood rain in the UK, there is a possibility we will see yellow and brown dust in low concentrations. Can we just put in an order for some more sunshine please?