British skies were a rainbow of colour as dust from the Sahara surged across Europe this week.

The stunning dust creates spectacular orange-purple ripples in the sky with one photographer lucky to capture it as the sunset.

Karl Houghton took pictures and said the rare phenomenon was really nice to see in the upper clouds.

He added: "The Saharan dust in the upper clouds added some really nice colour", with the breathtaking shots taken in Blackpool.

In one picture, a massive conical-shaped sculpture, Mary's Shell, looks majestic on the sandy stretch beneath the alien sky.

The crazy colours are caused by a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering, caused by additional particles in the air.

Met Office meteorologist Dan Stroud said: "The dust in the atmosphere causes the light to be more refracted, so you get the dominance of the red and orange tinges of the spectrum."

The cloud formed when dust from the Sahara Desert was driven up into the air by a weather front dubbed Storm Celia by Spanish authorities. It was then pushed over the Mediterranean before covering parts of France and Spain.

Baffled Brits were "disgusted" when they saw their cars in the early hours of the morning and thought the rain was "really" dirty.

Lola Panic, a student from Deptford, southeast London, told The Mirror her garden chairs had been covered in dust as a result of the bizarre weather.

"Originally we felt a bit disgusted because of how dirty the rain seemed," said the 26-year-old.

"Then we felt slightly scared and confused, didn’t want to leave the house.

Saharan dust on UK coast creates spectacular orange-purple ripples in the sky

"In fact, none of us has left the house yet."

But experts warned that the dust will cause a "significant reduction in air quality".

Dr Ryder, who works at the University of Reading, said: "The plume is forecast to reach southern England during the early hours of Wednesday, covering areas from Dorset to Suffolk, with the southeast counties, particularly Kent, being the worst affected.

“Those up early enough on Wednesday will see the tell-tale red dusty sunrise. This is caused by the dust absorbing blue light from the sun and letting more red light through when the sun is low in the sky. By evening the dust will have moved eastwards towards the Netherlands and Germany., he added.

One motorist was "shocked" when she saw the dusty rainwater first thing in the morning.

Donna Deeming, 46, from Basildon, Essex, was "only popping out to grab some milk" when she noticed her car was covered in dusty rainwater.

"I sat in the car and thought 'what on earth has happened?'" the finance administrator said.

"It’s only very drizzly here.

"There have been no downpours as yet, so I wasn’t sure if someone had thrown something on the car or if it was from some building work locally."

Dr Andy Whittamore - the clinical lead at Asthma UK - warned of the risks posed by Saharan dust.

He said: "Toxic air can leave people struggling for breath and can cause wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and even a life-threatening asthma attack," he said.

“Saharan dust could pose a serious risk to the 5.4 million people in the UK with asthma".

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