St Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland could have a green and orange look this year, but not for the reason you might expect.
It’s because of a so-called rare blood rain sweeping across Europe caused by a huge Saharan dust storm.
According to satellite images from the Met Office, the dust clouds could make their way from North Africa towards the island of Ireland.
We can see the #SaharanDust that has pushed across Spain and France, into southeast England— Met Office (@metoffice) March 16, 2022
Whilst this #dust is mostly about 2km above ground level, some deposits may fall to the ground, especially during today's rain in southern parts of the UK pic.twitter.com/9mxfcnk8cv
Spanish officials say the dust has been driven up into the air by what they have classified as Storm Celia.
In parts of Spain, the public have been warned of poor air quality and told people not to stay outside for too long.
Pictures shared from countries like Portugal, Germany and Spain have even showed the sky glowing an orange colour because of the phenomenon.
With dust already detected in southeastern parts of England, the Met Office have forecast that the dust will travel into parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland on Wednesday evening and persist into St Patrick’s Day.
While the dust is generally about 2km above ground level, forecasters say some deposits may fall to the ground.
According to the Met Office, blood rain is an informal term to describe red-coloured rain falling from the sky.
It’s understood it occurs when relatively high concentrations of red coloured dust or particles get mixed into rain, giving it a red appearance as it falls.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not a meteorological or scientific term and there is no official definition.
The latest forecast for Northern Ireland shows that most Wednesday evening will be dry with clear skies and some frost.
Becoming cloudier later in the night, there could be some rain reaching the far west by dawn, with minimum temperatures of 0 °C.
Looking to St Patrick’s Day on Thursday, a dry start will turn cloudy through the morning with scattered showers spreading from the west.
Things will turn drier and brighter in the afternoon with a maximum temperature of 11 °C.
From Friday to Sunday, a dry few days are expected with some good spells of sunshine.
Things will become much milder although onshore breezes will keep the southeast coast somewhat colder and will bring overnight frost.