Swiss skies turn orange as Saharan dust sweeps through

Swiss skies turn orange as Saharan dust sweeps through

People awoke on March 15 in Switzerland to see orange skies across the country. The reason? Saharan sand had made its way across the Mediterranean to the alpine country, in a meteorological phenomenon only seen three times a year.

Orange skies in Switzerland caused by Saharan dust

Even atop Swiss mountains, the skies have turned from azure blue to Saharan orange, as large waves of dust envelop the country. The sand originated from northwest Africa in nations like Mauritania, Mali and Algeria.

After being swept off the mountain dunes of Africa, most of the dust floats between 2 and 5 kilometres above the ground, travelling northwards using the foehn - the warm southerly wind that flows through Switzerland. Now, the dust has started to fall as the wind fades, creating the orange colour effect.

Sand from the Sahara cakes most vehicles

Not only does it give the sunlight an unusual yellow tint, but it also coats everything from houses to people. Drivers in Switzerland are likely to face long queues at car washes, as most vehicles now look as if they had just come back from power sliding on a Mediterranean beach.

The meteorological phenomenon is not uncommon for weather in Switzerland, happening around three times a year during the spring and autumn months. While it may not last long, the sand gives locals an excellent opportunity to experience the colour palette of Dune and Blade Runner for a few hours.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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