Storm Ophelia turns the sun red

16/10/17

It's been a busy Monday morning at the BBC Weather Centre.

It's the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm which devastated parts of southern England, Storm Ophelia is bringing damaging winds to Ireland, western coasts and Scotland, and to top it off lots of you are sending in pictures of a red sun.

Red sun
Image caption Spectacular red sun captured in Sandbach, Cheshire East

And the question is … why has the sun and sky turned red?

Red sun above rooftops
Image caption Red above the rooftops in Lowestoft, Suffolk. Photo by Charlie

We think the answer is a combination of smoke from the wildfires across Spain and Portugal and also some Saharan dust drawn up on the southerly winds associated with Ophelia.

The dust has caused the shorter wavelength light (blue, violet etc) to be scattered away, leaving the longer wavelength light (red/orange).

Red sun in a hazy sky
Image caption Alison photographed this stunning scene in Leatherhead, Surrey

Ophelia originated in the Atlantic where it was a hurricane and as it tracked its way northwards it dragged in tropical air from the Sahara.

red sun
Image caption At noon in Mark, Somerset, the "sun [was] blood red and [the sky] dark as dusk"

The dust gets picked up into the air and goes high up into the atmosphere and it is now above the UK.

red sun
Image caption This incredible photo was taken by treehacker in Tamworth, Staffordshire