‘Blood rain’ will fall on Britain this weekend staining cars and pavements a rusty brown as red dust blows in from the Sahara desert.
Parts of the UK are facing soaring levels of air pollution as African dust mingles with city pollution, prompting health officials to issue warnings to vulnerable people.
Much of the South East and eastern England will see high levels of pollution, although the problem is expected to be short-lived, with Atlantic winds dispersing the murky air by Saturday, the Environment Department (Defra) said.
“Blood rain” is the term used when rain mixes with sand from deserts. Storms in the Sahara desert whip up sand into a fine dust which is carried for more than 2,000 miles to Britain.
When the rain falls it looks a reddish colour and when it dries it leaves a thin layer of dust capable of coating houses, cars and garden furniture.
Although it is more common in Spain and the South of France, it has been known to travel longer distances and fall in areas like Scandinavia. In some parts of India the colour has been vibrant enough to stain clothing.
Met Office forecaster Dan Williams said: “People could find yellow or brown dust from the Sahara on their cars on Saturday morning.”
In ancient times ‘blood rain’ was believed to be actual blood and considered a bad omen, heralding death and destruction. It is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s tales of King Arthur.
Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/weather/11525166/Blood-rain-to-fall-on-Britain-as-red-Saharan-dust-blows-in-from-Africa.html