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Soaring temperatures and red sun side effects of Storm Ophelia

Ex-hurricane Ophelia is dragging Saharan sand and dust high into the atmosphere turning the sun red. Photo: Carla Sears

Storm Ophelia may be battering the western side of the British Isles but in the East it has brought October warmth and a red sky and sun.

Temperatures reached 23°C in north Norfolk making it feel more like July than October.

Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge said the former hurricane is pulling air and dust up from southern Europe and Africa.

"It's all connected with Ophelia, on the eastern side of the low pressure system air is coming up in the southern direction," he said.

The image of the red sun was taken in Milton Keynes. Credit: Gill May

"Air is being pulled from southern Europe and Africa and that air contains a lot of dust.

"So 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.

"It's certainly spectacular at the moment and quite a talking point, we've had a lot of calls about it."

– Grahame Madge, Met Office forecaster
The blood red sun shining through the clouds and dust at Fordham Heath in Essex. Credit: Colin Ebdon

This dust scatters the blue light from the sun letting more red light through. This is quite common at sunrise or sunset but rarer in the middle of the day.

A charity has warned those with severe asthma to check forecasts and stay indoors where possible to avoid the dust.

Sonia Munde, head of the helpline at Asthma UK, said: "We are deeply concerned about the toxic air from Saharan dust that Hurricane Ophelia has churned up, as this could pose a severe risk for the 5.4 million people in the UK who have asthma.<

The Met Office says measurements from the air quality network on the ground show no evidence of significant dust concentrations in the air at the surface.

A picture of the 'red sun' taken in Bury St Edmunds at 1541 hrs on Monday 16 October 2017. Credit: Savannah Hanlon
A red sun is not unusual when it low in the sky at sunset but less common in the middle of the day. Credit: Dennise McCarthy
The sunny scene at Pakefield on the Suffolk coast. Credit: John Ward

The path of ex-hurricane Ophelia also pushed some very warm air towards the British Isles with temperatures in the Anglia region 8°C higher than normal for mid October.

The warmest place in the UK was Manston in Kent where it was 23.5°C.

Highest temperatures in the Anglia region on Monday 16 October 2017

  • 23.4°C in Weybourne, Norfolk
  • 23.3°C in Santon Downham, Suffolk
  • 23.2°C in Cromer, Norfolk
  • 23.2°C in Marham, Norfolk
  • 22.9°C in Houghton, Norfolk
  • 22.8°C in Cavendish, Suffolk
  • 22.6°C in Holbeach, Lincolnshire
  • 22.5°C in Andrewsfield near Braintree, Essex
A fiery ball shining though the clouds at Dereham in Norfolk. Credit: Gordon Eagling
The skies over Ramsey St Mary in Cambridgeshire. Credit: Chris Mitchell
This image of the sun was taken in Ipswich, Suffolk. Credit: Maria Rudd

Joanne Joyce from Great Chesterford in Essex said she was so absorbed by the skies that she nearly burnt the sausages for tea.

Dramatic skies over Great Chesterford in Essex. Credit: Joanne Joyce

Storm Ophelia has so far seen wind gusts on the mountains of Wales reaching 90mph.

Wind speeds were higher in some locations in the Republic of Ireland which took a direct hit from the remnants of the hurricane.

All schools across the Ireland and Northern Ireland are to remain closed on Tuesday as the authorities deal with the aftermath of Storm Ophelia.

The decision was taken to "avoid any potential risk to life for children and staff" after severe winds caused widespread damage to the electricity network, structural damage and uprooted trees.

A blood red sunset at Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire. Credit: Adrian Page-Mitchell
Red skies over the county town of Essex, the city of Chelmsford. Credit: Clare Hardy
A picture of the red sun today at Wortwell in Norfolk. Credit: Scarlett Fisher
This image was taken in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Credit: Charmian Berry
Sunset at Forncett St Peter in South Norfolk. Credit: Anthony Land

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