Anyone preparing to drive to work this morning (April 1) could be met with the baffling sight of a thin layer of red dust covering their vehicle.
Fears of vandals at work would be unfounded, however, as the Met Office has issued a warning that the dust is actually being caused by gale-force winds blowing over the Sahara Desert and causing April Showers of a very different kind.
The high winds are kicking up sand from the northwest Africa into exceptionally high altitudes, where it is being carried for thousands of miles and dumped over Moray.
Met Office spokesman Paul Hutcheon said: “We usually see this happen several times a year when big dust storms in the Sahara coincide with southerly winds to bring that dust here.”
Saharan dust is lifted by strong winds and can reach very high altitudes – from there it can be transported worldwide by winds, covering distances of thousands of kilometers.
The dust gets caught in rain droplets in clouds, falling to the ground in rain. When the water evaporates, a thin layer of dust is left on surfaces, like cars. It can also lead to vivid sunsets.
Mr Hutcheon added: “Generally winds of more than 20mph are needed to lift sand at the Saharan Desert has been experiencing some gale force winds of over 40mph.”