Warm winds bring Saharan dust as temperatures soar to 17C
- Credit: PA
Dust from the Sahara carried by southerly winds that have brought unseasonal spring temperatures are set to see colorful sunrises and sunsets across the region, Met Office forecasters say.
The dust in the atmosphere will see glorious orange and red sunrises but also lead to people experiencing itchy eyes.
Norfolk, Waveney and Cambridgeshire were basking in the country’s highest temperatures on Wednesday as frozen February was replaced by the the first hints of spring.
Forecasters said unseasonal temperatures will be felt across much of the UK in the coming days, with highs of up to 17C (62.6F) in the region on Wednesday - weather more commonly seen in May than February.
The mild weather comes three weeks after fresh snowfall and sub-zero temperatures that brought lows of -20C in some parts.
Met Office forecaster Oli Claydon said: "A few days of milder temperatures are forecast.
"Through the week we're into double figures (in Celsius) for many places. It will be a noticeable change from what we've had in recent weeks."
The weather is being driven by warm southerly winds that have brought dust and sand particles transported over 2,000km from the Sahara Desert.
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The same dust clouds have choked parts of West and Central Africa producing picturesque orange skies.
Saharan dust is relatively common in the UK, often arriving several times a year when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly wind patterns.
In certain weather situations, it can coat cars and cause irritation as it affects air pollution and pollution levels.
Wednesday's temperatures were well above the UK average maximum temperature for February, which stands at 6.6C (43.9F).
In fact, 17C (62.6F) eclipses the average maximum temperature for May, which is 14.8C (58.6F) for the UK, and 15.8C (60.4F) for England.
Dan Holley, of Norwich-based Weatherquest, said Weybourne on the north Norfolk coast had been the warmest place in the UK on Sunday, recording a maximum temperature of 15.9°C - the average for February there is 7.1°C.
Thursday is forecast to start cloudy but will brighten with sunny spells during the afternoon and the maximum temperature 13C.
Mr Claydon said: "It will feel more like spring, especially in the sunshine."