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Red Sun rises over Kent and south east London as Storm Ophelia creates special weather phenomenon

PUBLISHED: 16:08 16 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:32 17 October 2017

Ophelia Sun. Photo: Neil Pugh - DecisiveImaging

Ophelia Sun. Photo: Neil Pugh - DecisiveImaging

Viewers are sharing their photos online via #RedSun

Red sun over Swanley on Monday. Photo courtesy of Martin Gillespie, @051976_martRed sun over Swanley on Monday. Photo courtesy of Martin Gillespie, @051976_mart

A red sun spotted in the sky over parts of England has been caused by Storm Ophelia.

The unusual occurrence was seen across much of Kent and south east London on Monday, with a number of people sharing photos and video online of the phenomenon.

Thousands took to Twitter using #RedSun to share the yellowed-sky and glowing-red sun.

Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge said the former hurricane is pulling air and dust up from southern Europe and Africa.

The sky over Croydon Road, Beckenham, during Monday's red sun. Photo: Tracy LaneThe sky over Croydon Road, Beckenham, during Monday's red sun. Photo: Tracy Lane

“It’s all connected with Ophelia, on the eastern side of the low pressure system air is coming up in the southern direction,” he said.

“Air is being pulled from southern Europe and Africa and that air contains a lot of dust.

“So it’s most likely the appearance of sunset at midday is caused by the particles scattering the light and giving the appearance of a red sun.

“It’s certainly spectacular at the moment and quite a talking point, we’ve had a lot of calls about it.”

The sky over Croydon Road, Beckenham, during Monday's red sun. Photo: Tracy LaneThe sky over Croydon Road, Beckenham, during Monday's red sun. Photo: Tracy Lane

During the phenomenon, dozens of flights had to be cancelled, while a leading charity also warned those with severe asthma to check forecasts and stay indoors where possible to avoid the dust.

Sonia Munde, head of the helpline at Asthma UK, said: “We are deeply concerned about the toxic air from Saharan dust that Hurricane Ophelia has churned up, as this could pose a severe risk for the 5.4 million people in the UK who have asthma.

“Winds picking up dust and particles in the air could trigger potentially fatal asthma attacks.”

The so-called ‘red sky’ came exactly 30 years on from the Great Storm of 1987, which saw millions of people across the south east waking up to the sight of uprooted trees, damaged homes and altered landscapes, after 100mph winds battered the region.

The sky over Belvedere on Monday. Photo: Tracey HardyThe sky over Belvedere on Monday. Photo: Tracey Hardy

Got a picture? Send them into luke.may@archant.co.uk.

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