Monday, 16 October 2017

A Deep Orange Sun, An Ex-Hurricane and Saharan Dust - 16th October

A curious and unique set of meteorological conditions gave a view of the sun today not often seen here in the United Kingdom.  Ex Hurricane 'Ophelia' was tracking northward in the Eastern Atlantic and due to make landfall on the southern coast of Ireland first thing on monday morning.   This had the effect of drawing up a warm source of tropical air from the Sahara Desert from North Africa.  This had been forecast for a couple of days over the weekend as temperatures in the UK rose to 25 celcius, some 10 celcius above the norm for this time of year.  Indeed on the sunday night a faint pinky sunset indicative of atmospheric particles scattering the longer wavelength red light.  The chart on the left shows the red line is the source of Saharan dust, whereas the blue and green plots have their origins from the mid Atlantic.  The red plot represents an air source within 500m of the surface whereas the green and blue plots air is some several thousand metres above the surface.  The plot below from the University of Greece shows the distribution of Saharan dust across Europe.  
The tongue of dust over the UK is been drawn up from ex Hurricane Ophelia drawing up the warm air from the south into it's cyclonic system.  The sky over Brierley Hill took on a peculiar Martian pinky tinge, looking very unusual, with the sun taking on a bright orange colour as the dust scattered red light in the atmosphere.  As the air source changed the sky and suns curious look changed back to normal almost instantly, and it's low height above the ground is shown by the pinky brown band on the horizon in the picture below.  If it was higher it would be more diffuse.