Why the skies over England turned a haunting shade of yellow

October 17, 2017, 1:13 p.m.
Yellow sky in London
Photo: Aris Reza Aris/Facebook

If you were in London on Oct. 16, you witnessed an unusual weather event: The sky turned yellow-ish and the sun blazed red.

The eerie hue was caused by the collision of two occurrences: debris from forest fires in Spain and Portugal, and winds from (former) Hurricane Ophelia mixing the smoke and debris with sand from the Sahara, according to the Met Office, the national weather service for the United Kingdom.

"Saharan dust and smoke from northern wildfires in northern Iberia scattered the blue light from the sun, letting more red light through," the Met Office said.

The smoky mixture trailed for over 1,000 miles to other parts of the U.K. But it's located mostly at higher altitudes, so the health risks are low, according to CNN.

Thankfully, the occurrence was brief and skies have returned to normal.

Hurricanes are somewhat rare in England. Most hurricanes develop in warm waters off the coast of Africa and head west for the Caribbean and the United States. A small number, including Hurricane Katia in 2011 and now Hurricane Ophelia, have made a U-turn of sorts and traveled back across the ocean toward England, Live Science reports.


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