Forecasters have said that the eerie sky over Nottingham on Monday was caused by hurricane ‘Ophelia’.
People in Nottingham were feeling uneasy as the mid-afternoon sky turned orange yesterday looking like a Martian atmosphere. Some were even concerned that this event was the herald of an apocalyptic event but they need not have been worried.
Weather forecasters said that it was due to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia dragging in tropical air and dust from the Sahara.
Debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain was also playing a part. The former hurricane’s powerful winds have pulled air and dust up from southern Europe and Africa – with the spectacular sight prompting “lots of calls” to the Met Office.
Forecaster Grahame Madge explained: “It’s all connected with Ophelia, on the eastern side of the low pressure system air is coming up in the southern direction. “It’s most likely the appearance of sunset at midday is caused by the particles scattering the light and giving the appearance of a red sun.”
There has been great local interest in the colour of the sky yesterday.
This interesting phenomenon was a result of the movement of ex-Ophelia, the same southerly winds that have brought us the warmth over the weekend also drew up dust from the Sahara and smoke particles from Iberian wildfires to our latitudes.
The red or yellow appearance occurs as the dust scatters the blue light from the sun which lets more red light through, much as at sunrise or sunset.
According to the Met Office, it is likely that the smoke particles alone could return on Wednesday.
It is important to note that these particles will be at high altitude and are not expected to bring air quality issues at ground level, the smoke particles alone are not expected to turn the sky red to such an extent as yesterday.
Hurricane Ophelia developed to the southwest of the Azores and had reached Category 3 status over the weekend. As it moved north-east across the North Atlantic, Ophelia lost energy as it passed over cooler waters.