Why was the rain orange yesterday? 'Blood rain' explained

Brown rain
(Image credit: Getty)

The weather is unpredictable in the UK as when you think Spring is around the corner, it throws a curveball and the sunny skies are replaced with orange clouds that bring brown rain. But why was the rain orange yesterday? Here's what 'blood' rain is and what it means.

Many of us have heard of the saying 'it's raining cats and dogs' but have you ever known the rain to be brown? Well the weather does like to throw a few surprises every now and then - and yesterday was one of those days when you wished you hadn't just washed your car because it's going to be dirty in seconds.

People up and down the country have taken to Twitter to report the weird goings on...

Why was the rain orange yesterday?

The rain was orange yesterday because of the Saharan dust which has turned the skies above Portugal, Germany and Spain a rusty orange colour before it headed for the UK. The Met Office has warned that the dust is being carried north across France according to satellite images and that some deposits may fall to the ground in southern parts of the country, including Kent.

The dust from the Saharan desert is relatively common in the UK, arriving several times a year, but nevertheless, with the current situation with Russia invading Ukraine and the threat of WW3, it's taken some people by surprise.

Nineties band Right Said Fred tweeted, "Why is their a rusty-red in the rain?"

Another user said, "Ewwww brown rain #saharandust"

A third tweeted, "Brown rain in London. This was a clean car!!!"

And a fourth asked, "It's raining brown rain drops right now. is that good?"

And another commuter added, "What's with the brown rain today? #rain #London"

Brown rain happens when big dust and sand storms in the Sahara coincide with particular wind patterns which carry the particles thousands of miles across countries. Forecasters have even warned that in certain weather situations Saharan dust can also affect air pollution and air quality levels should it come down in large enough quantities.

Why is there sand on my car?

Confused motorists are wondering why is there sand on my car? and its because the orange-coloured deposits of dust have been carried over from the Sahara desert following the sand storms that led to yesterday's blood rain downpour. Even in places where it hasn't rained the dust particles can be carried with the winds and as a result, people's vehicles parked outside will be covered in a fine dusting of the sediment. As the sand is more visible after landing on vehicles rather than blending into the grass or ground.

Why is the rain muddy?

The rain is muddy because sediments of dust from the Saharan desert has been whipped up into the cloudy skies and carried across Germany, Spain and Portugal. It is headed to the UK, bringing with it rain which subsequently turns brown when the sediment is mixed with the rainwater.

It comes after parts of southern Spain were been blanketed following a thick plume, with satellite images clearly showing the dust over France.

As the red dust is carried in the air, it mixes with rain, giving the appearance of blood falling from the sky. The Saharan dust was whipped up by Storm Celia as a plume of hot air moved across Europe, including parts of Spain and Switzerland, fetching with it the orange coloured dust.

Met Office forecaster Richard Miles explained, ‘The orange effect is caused by the Rayleigh scattering, which is the same effect that gives you the blue sky. The additional dust will scatter the blue light and create more red light effects which gives sunsets their distinctive colour. So the more layers of dust in the atmosphere the right conditions will give you orange and red tints to the sky."

What is Blood rain?

Blood rain is an historic phrase used to describe a process by which relatively high concentrations of red coloured dust or particles get mixed into rain, giving it a red appearance as it falls. And while brown rain may be common from time to time, we rarely ever see 'blood rain' in the UK,

The clip below will explain where blood rain comes from...


The plume is expected to just cause some dusty residue left behind on car windscreens.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)