Another Sahara sand episode forecast in south of France today

The phenomenon is expected to appear by midday today, hours after a bright meteor was reported over Cannes and the Alpes-Maritimes last night

25 April 2021
By Hannah Thompson

Skies over the south of France are expected to turn orange again this weekend as more Sahara sand is expected to arrive by midday today (Sunday April 25).

Forecaster Météo-France has predicted sunny skies for most of the weekend, but said that sand from the Africa desert would make an appearance by mid-Sunday.

The phenomenon is expected to last until at least Tuesday April 27 at a minimum.

Reddish dust will likely cover cars and houses, and the skies may be tinged with an orange hue.

The dust will also cause a drop in air quality, and people with respiratory issues, such as asthma, are warned to take extra care.

Read more: Sahara sand in France can lead to health issues studies show

Meteorologist Guillaume Séchet, told Météo Paris: “When a depression enters and positions itself near the Iberian peninsula, a strong wind from the south/south-west can lift between Morocco and Algeria, bringing up large quantities of sand dust from these regions.

“If the wind is sufficiently strong and persistent in these areas, and France, all these particles are sent directly to our regions, giving a yellowish colour to the sky, and sometimes falling in the form of muddy or sandy rain, when the atmosphere is damp enough.”

Although it happens annually, the phenomenon has been particularly noticeable this year. 

The first episode was noticed on February 5 and 6. The sky turned orange and ski fields in the Pyrenees took on a pink tinge.

Since then, there have been two more episodes, with slightly fewer particles.

The amount of particles is measured in grams per m2. The record for France was on February 21, 2004, when France received 1.5 million tonnes of sand.

 

Meteorite spotted over Cannes

Sand is not the only reason people in France have been looking to the sky this weekend; last night (Saturday April 24), a bright light was reported over the south of the country towards 22:30.

Reports came in of a “ball of fire” travelling across the sky from the Alpes-Maritimes, Var, in the Pyrenees, and even as far as Lyon.

Witnesses said that the “ball” appeared to have split in two, leaving a long tail behind it, before disappearing.

Météo Côte D'Azur confirmed that the ball was an “enormous meteorite”, while US space agency NASA said in a press release on Thursday that the phenomenon was common this time of year.

The meteors are part of the “Lyrid meteor shower” or “Lyrid Fireball” season, and are commonly seen each year between April 16-25.

The website Space.com explains: “The individual meteors, or tiny space rocks, of the Lyrids appear when the Earth, moving in its orbit around the sun, plows into the dusty trail of a long-departed comet, called Thatcher, that swings by Earth every 415 years.”

Related stories

Sahara sand to turn French skies orange again
French scientists call for samples of Sahara sand in snow
Dramatic orange skies in France caused by Sahara sand

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