The UK experienced some pretty odd weather phenomenon last week. England was blanketed under blood-red skies and wild fires plagued the Iberian Peninsula. While it sounds like the plot of a disaster movie, it’s actually the result of Tropical Storm Ophelia.
The UK rarely sees Tropical Storms because of the colder water temperature, but that didn’t stop Ophelia, which made landfall in Ireland as a post-tropical storm last Sunday.
A cool upper atmosphere and water temperatures that are far warmer than usual helped invite the storm. Scientists have predicted that rising temperatures will likely result in Western Europe getting hit by more hurricanes in the years to come.
Ophelia brought with it some pretty strange phenomenon as well.
First off, the path the storm took completely defied what most storms do in the area. Ophelia developed around Portugal, moved slightly west and then bolted directly north.
It’s extremely rare that hurricanes develop that far east because of the cooler temperatures of the Atlantic Ocean in that area. Hurricane Charley in 1992 was the last hurricane to develop that far east.
The end result was the first severe weather alert in Ireland’s history.
Twitter blew up last week with the creepy image of a blood-red sun over England. It’s obviously not something often seen in the UK, and we can thank Ophelia for this phenomenon, too. One of the main ingredients came from the North African Sahara, where cyclonic winds kicked up a LOT of dust. That dust was carried into the English sky, and that’s what gave us the creepy red images.
England didn’t actually catch fire, but Portugal and Spain did. Ophelia helped blow massive wild fires across the Iberian Peninsula, killing more than 30 people and filling the air with ash and toxic smoke. A dry summer only helped to fuel the flames.
It’s been an intense year for the Atlantic hurricane season. Current climate change predictions don’t show future seasons letting up any time soon, and now the UK may be a player in those predictions as well.