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WEATHER

Sahara dust cloud blows across Germany

People in southern Germany have been reporting a different colour of sky this week due to dust blowing in from the Saharan desert.

People stand in front of a window in the Bavarian parliament as Sahara dust gathered over the city centre on Tuesday, colouring the sky a yellow/orange colour.
People stand in front of a window in the Bavarian parliament as Sahara dust gathered over the city centre on Tuesday, colouring the sky a yellow/orange colour. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

In many areas in southern Germany – including Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg – looking outside feels a bit like being in a retro film: everything is bathed in a sepia-tinged light.

The phenomenon is down to south-westerly winds which have been carrying dust from the Sahara across the continent, including Germany. In spring, North Africa always experiences strong winds that stir up masses of dust particles.

At the moment, there are sandstorms in the deserts of Tunisia and Libya. With the southwesterly air current, the desert dust is reaching Germany via the Balearic Islands and the Alps. It can be particularly noticeable in Lower and Upper Bavaria.

Sahara dust from North Africa blows over the Rhine Valley in Ehrenkirchen, Baden-Württemberg, providing an orange glow.

Sahara dust from North Africa blows over the Rhine Valley in Ehrenkirchen, Baden-Württemberg, providing an orange glow. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Philipp von Ditfurth

Red rain?

It is one of the most intense – or possibly even the strongest – desert dust event since February 21st 2004, weather expert Michael Sachweh from broadcaster BR24 said.

Social media users posted pictures of the coloured sky on Tuesday. 

And on Wednesday, there is still likely to be dust clouds because there is a high concentration of particles in the sky. Light precipitation could also cause a kind of red rain, washing out the desert sand.

Until Saturday morning, more Sahara dust is likely to be blown in Germany’s direction. After this point, forecasters say the air flow will change which will stop the dust from coating parts of the country. 

According to the German Weather Service (DWD), it may travel further north. In Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate, for instance, the dust will make spring-like days a little duller.

Evening glow and dirty cars

When it’s cloudy, the cloud contours become blurred. If the sky is clear – which should be the case again from Thursday thanks to high-pressure weather – the sky does not appear brilliantly blue, but instead it looks hazy or milky, and pale.

Experts say that the morning and evening red colours will become more intense this week. However, the dust can land on cars or other vehicles – and is less pleasant.

Sahara dust sticks to a car in Ruderatshofen, Bavaria, after rain.

Sahara dust sticks to a car in Ruderatshofen, Bavaria, after rain. Photo:
picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

No health hazard in Germany

Experts say that the Sahara dust cloud is not a health hazard because the concentration in the air is not high enough.

But fine particles can enter people’s airways and cause irritation. People with allergies and asthma may get increased symptoms when outside and are advised to manage their condition for instance by using their inhaler if needed or wearing a mask. 

READ ALSO: Is Switzerland’s Sahara dust cloud dangerous?

The phenomenon is not unusual. On average, desert dust moves from the Sahara via Morocco and France to Germany about five to 15 times a year – mainly in spring and summer. The last massive Sahara dust fog came to Germany in February 2021.

In Spain the sand storms can result in extremely bad air quality.

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WEATHER

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After days of summery weather, temperatures in Germany are set to peak at around 30C this week before a cooler spell over the weekend.

Germany set for scorching temperatures up to 30C

After a long spell of sunny weather, most parts of Germany could see summer arrive early this week with clear blue skies and sweltering temperatures – but the hot weather may not last long, according to meteorologists.

Heat and sunshine should last through the middle of the week but suddenly give way to cooler temperatures over the weekend, the German Weather Service (DWD) predicts.

On Tuesday, most regions see temperatures in the mid to high 20s and a continuation of the dry weather of the past week. In the northeast, including Berlin, the mercury could reach 28C, and temperatures are likely to be between 22C and 28C across western and central areas.

Those in higher altitude regions of the south and those along the north coast should be the only people needing their rain jackets as this part of the country could see scattered showers and clouds, according to DWD.

Wednesday is the day to plan a lake trip as this is likely to be the hottest day of the week. 

Most parts of the country will stay sunny and dry throughout the day and people can expect summery temperatures of between 24C and 30C.

For those on the north coast, it’s likely to be a little chillier, with temperatures of around 15C and partly overcast skies.

Thursday and Friday are likely to bring with them cooler temperatures, with the hot spell giving way to scattered showers and clouds in many regions over the weekend.

On Saturday, southern regions will see highs up of up to 23C while the northern regions will slip down to 18C during the day.

But anyone planning to be out and about on Saturday evening in the south should bring a warm jacket as the mercury could drop as low as 4C. 

Sunny weather Standbad Lübars

A woman enjoys the warm weather at Standbad Lübars in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Britta Pedersen

Northern regions ‘too dry’ 

Though most people have been thrilled to see a warm burst of sunshine in the middle of spring, climate experts have been voicing concern about the uneven rainfall across the country.

In an analysis published on the DWD website, the meteorologists claimed that the northern and eastern parts of Germany have been “clearly too dry” in the past weeks.

“A first glance at the current map already reveals that the regional differences of April have continued in May,” they wrote. “In almost all regions of the northern half and in some parts of the centre, hardly more than 10 and in many places not even 5 litres of rain per square-metre fell in the first days of May.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

Though experts had predicted low rainfall, the first 10 days of May have been even drier than predicted.

The lack of rainfall has caused groundwater to dry up significantly, sparking fears of forest fires and drought over summer.

Though more rainfall could come at the end of May, the Weather Channel’s Jan Schenk believes the probability of an overly dry summer is now “very high”.

Schenk believes that predictions for rainfall could have overestimated the amount of precipitation by up to 50 litres per square metre in some areas. This is a reason for households to start saving water now, he told HNA

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