Motorists awoke this morning (Thursday) to find “dust” had fallen from the sky and coated their cars.
The Met Office later revealed it was actually Saharan sand – which had blown 2,000 miles from the African desert to reach the areas around Northchurch last night.
Tony Devenish, 67, of Covert Road in the village, said: “There was a fairly thick layer of dust that came down between Berkhamsted and Tring with the rain.
“My whole car is covered in this splotchy dust.”
He said everyone in his wife’s keep-fit class had also noticed the dust, which had fallen onto green-houses, cars and other surfaces.
He said: “When we got up in the morning we looked at my car and thought, ‘That’s Filthy,’ and it had only recently been cleaned.”
The Met Office has now revealed that a sand storm in western Sahara late last week was blown over the Atlantic and Spain before reaching the UK.
It then got caught up in rain droplets in the clouds and left a thin layer of dust after falling to the ground and evaporating.
Paul Hutcheon, deputy chief forecaster at the Met Office, said this happens several times a year – especially in summer, when Saharan sand storms are bigger.
But he said: “This event was a very well-marked example, as you can clearly see the dust as it moves from the Sahara to the UK in the satellite imagery.”
The sand also fell in other parts of the UK.