A Saharan dust cloud could create a ‘blood rain’ effect across the UK later this week as it turns rain from thunderstorms a shade of red, forecasters have predicted.
“Blood rain” occurs when heavy concentrations of red-colored dust or particles combine with rain, giving it a red appearance when it falls, according to the Met Office. Red or orange rain is expected in parts of the UK after crossing Europe, accompanied by heavy showers, lightning, high winds and hail.
The dust cloud, which originated in the Sahara, was last seen in the UK in March, turning skies temporarily orange.
A yellow thunderstorm warning has also been issued by the Met Office, from Wednesday evening into the early hours of Thursday in south-east England, including London, with potential disruption to travel.
The weather warning comes after the hottest day of the year so far on Tuesday, when temperatures in the southeast peaked at 27.5C.
Richard Miles, from the Met Office, said: ‘There are currently concentrations of dust in the atmosphere over the UK which could well be washed away by rain this evening, but it is likely to acts in relatively small amounts overall.
“There is a thunderstorm warning for the south-eastern third of England this evening, and a squally cold front will bring wind and occasional heavy rain to Northern Ireland and north-west Scotland this evening.
‘Away from these features it will be mostly sunny and dry on Wednesday and tomorrow, temperatures up to 23-24C in London and the South East, high teens or low 20s elsewhere.’
The expected thunderstorms could bring sea spray and flooding, leading to difficult driving conditions and some road closures.
There may also be delays or cancellations of train and bus services, flooding of homes and businesses, power outages and lightning damage.
Heavy rain is expected to fall in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland on Wednesday and Thursday, while showers will also affect parts of Wales and central and south-west England.