A Taste Of The Sahara In Co. Tyrone

Amazingly, over the last few days, here in Ireland we’ve been subject to very hazy conditions, and responsibility lies with the Sahara Desert! There has been a lot of miniscule sand and dust particles in the air, borne on the prevailing winds all the way from the North African desert. I noticed the phenomenon before I was even aware what was causing it while hiking in the Sperrin Mountains on Tuesday. It was a beautiful day, and I put the haze in the distance down to a heat haze. I didn’t make the link with the grit I kept finding on my forehead and face as I wiped away sweat due to my exertions. And, I didn’t link either with my extreme thirst and dry lips, as i didn’t know the sand was coating my lips and throat. It was only the next day when I heard about the unusual conditions that I made the connection.

Today, I was in Belfast for work, and the whole journey up and most of the way down was marked by really bad visibility – less than 100 metres in many places, due to the same cause. I stopped in east Tyrone to take a quick walk up the small Slievemore hill, and the haze really added to the bleak landscape at the summit. You can see the murky, gloomy conditions in the photo below, although the haze was not at its worst by then.

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On clear days in the same area, I’ve been able to see as far as the Mournes. While still at the summit, it began to clear a little to the east, and the sun even began to break through. But even then, it was only the landscape close by that was revealed, so the only photos I could get were of the wind farm on a lesser summit of the hill. Again, it lent a real bleakness to the scene.

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