Wet Sahara dust may explain appearance of mud - Met Éireann

Red dust from upper atmosphere falling with rain overnight ‘most plausible explanation’

 A fine film of dust covers cars in Dublin city today. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

A fine film of dust covers cars in Dublin city today. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 16:22

The “most plausible explanation” for widespread spots of reddish brown mud which have appeared across the east and southern coasts today, is wet dust from the Sahara, according to Met Éireann.

However the national forecaster has said there is little point in rushing to wash the family saloon as southerly or southeasterly winds are likely to remain in place for the coming days - as is the chance of rainfall - meaning there is a high risk of more dust washing down as spots of mud on us once again.

According to Met Éireann’s Joan Blackburn dust in the upper atmosphere is not an unusual phenomenon - it is usually light and well dispersed, but in certain conditions, particularly when it rains, the dust it is literally washed out of the sky and falls as a fine spattering of mud. Sometimes when it comes from the Sahara it can be red tinged, she said.

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The weather pattern affecting Ireland at the moment was not an unusual one and the conditions, a southerly wind and precipitation overnight, “would be the most plausible explanation” she added.

Met Éireann’s forecast for the coming week is for cloud and mist over for the eastern and northern areas for the rest of today, with scattered outbreaks of rain and drizzle.

Tonight will be misty and cloudy with further outbreaks of rain and drizzle and lowest temperatures will range from four to seven degrees Celsius in a light to moderate southeasterly breeze.

Tomorrow’s weather will be similar with some bright or sunny spells but dull a lot of the time. There will be occasional outbreaks of rain and drizzle and maximum temperatures from 13 to 15 degrees Celsius in a moderate southeasterly breeze.

The outlook for the coming days is for much the same with temperatures rising to about 14 degrees on Tuesday.

On Wednesday heavy rain will spread northwards across the country, finally reaching the north coast by early night.

Thursday will see further outbreaks of heavy rain over the northern half of the country, with isolated thunderstorms. Munster and south Connacht will be much drier and brighter, with occasional sunshine and temperatures reaching 14 or 15 degrees in the afternoon.

Friday should be mostly dry and bright with good spells of sunshine.