Saharan sand. Why your car is covered in red dust?
Have you gone out to your car in the past number of mornings and noticed that your car is covered in a fine coating of red dust?
Many drivers wonder why their cars are covered in sand and don’t realise that the answer lies in an Africa desert thousands of miles away.
During the summer period, not only do we get longer and hotter days but we also get African winds carrying sand all the way from the Sahara.
The red Saharan sands are also responsible for some of our spectacular and vivid sunrises and sunsets. The thin layer of dust that settles over Ireland each summer and most visible when deposited on our cars and windows is originally from desert sands.
The dust is lifted from the dry landscapes of Saharan Africa by strong winds, and taken up to very high altitudes and then carried hundreds of miles over to Ireland, UK and mainland Europe by a mild southerly airflow.
The fine red sand gets caught in rain droplets in clouds and will fall to the ground when it rains. When the rain evaporates away, a thin layer of sand is left all over your car.
If the winds in the upper part of the atmosphere are blowing north over Africa, the dust can very easily be carried as far away as Ireland.
Saharan sand deposits are relatively common and occur several times a year here in Ireland. In certain weather conditions, desert dust can affect air pollution levels.
This fine dust can be a problem for people who suffer from respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or heart problems. It can also sometimes cause sore throats and irritated eyes.