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Swiss skies turn orange as sand arrives from Africa

orange sky at ski station
The ski resort of Anzère in canton Valais, southwest Switzerland. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Sand particles from the Sahara appeared in Swiss skies on Saturday afternoon, bathing parts of the country in a soft milky-yellow light.

According to SRF Meteo, the weather service of the national broadcaster, the particles originated in regions of northwest Africa, including Mauritania, Mali, and Algeria.

Weather and wind conditions in those countries forced the sand two to five kilometres up into the sky before it was blown towards Europe via southerly winds, the weather service said.

The result in various parts of Switzerland on Saturday were misty yellow-orange skies, also seen across much of southern and eastern France.

Levels of fine particles in the air also increased due to the sand, especially in the mountains. At the Jungfraujoch (3,463 metres), a value of 744 micrograms per cubic metre was recorded; this compares to the national average throughout the year of 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

The sand and orange skies are set to disappear on Sunday as a cold front arrives to force down temperatures that in some parts of the country on Saturday rose to 15 or 16 degrees Celsius.

orange sky
Veysonnaz, canton Valais. Jochen Roch, via SRF
ski resort orange
Anzère, canton Valais. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron
bus stop in mist
A bus stop in Geneva, southwestern Switzerland. Keystone / Martial Trezzini
Val Ferret, canton Valais. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR