Sahara Desert sands cover Irish countryside overnight

People across Ireland awoke this morning to find that their vehicles – that had been parked outside – had surprisingly been covered in a fine sheet of brown dust spots overnight.

While some may have presumed that the soot landed on windscreens and bonnets as a result of someone tearing up and down a neighbouring farm pass all night and rising dust, it turns out that the particles of sediment had actually travelled almost 4,000km from Africa.

The dust originated in the Sahara Desert to be precise.

Speaking to AgriLand, the well-known and recently retired meteorologist with RTÉ television, Gerald Fleming, explained that the phenomenon “is not uncommon”.

Image source: Severe Weather Europe website

“When we get wind from the south – as we have had for the last while – and a dry period of weather which caused a lot of dust to get carried up into the high atmosphere. Then, when the winds are very strong, it travels northwards.

Then when we get rain showers – as we had on Monday night over parts of the south of the country – the dust gets washed down.

“That’s why you get the spots of dust. It comes down in the drop and the water evaporates – but the dust gets left behind on the surfaces.”

Car wash

Fleming – famous for his trademark end-of-broadcast wink – added “unfortunately if you had washed your car the previous day it will be covered in a layer of dust.”

“It happens maybe two or three times a year and the dust usually comes from North Africa or Spain,” Fleming concluded.