Rain dampens Saharan dust threat

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Rain has lessened the chances of dust from the Sahara causing a health risk to people in the south.

Health officials had issued warnings yesterday for moderate to high air pollution in the south east as southerly winds swept dust from the Saharan region northwards.

While the dust had been expected to settle in parts, thundery “sharp showers” which hit parts of England and Wales on Sunday night are likely to have removed any trace.

And the wet weather looks set to continue after England experienced a “taste of spring” yesterday as it enjoyed the hottest day of the year so far.

A top temperature of 17.2C (63F) was recorded in Gravesend, Kent, while central parts of England also basked in warm weather and sunshine.

But the spring weather was brought to an abrupt halt as thundery showers swept in, with further wet weather forecast over the coming days.

Chris Page, from the Met Office, said average temperatures for April were normally around 11C (51.8F) or 12C (53.6F), but much of the south east had enjoyed temperatures in the region of 14C (57.2F) to 16C (60.8F).

Although a welcome break in the weather, the warm spring day failed to top the highest temperature recorded in the UK this year - 18.7C (65.6F) in Braemar, Aberdeenshire, in March.

“That was a little taste of spring,” Mr Page said.

“As it looks for this week we’ve got some wet weather along eastern coast on Monday morning and it’s a bit more of a cloudy picture with some showers around - and these showers will possibly be heavy across England and Wales with isolated thunder.

“They push their way northwards and then through the day, it’s going to be quite wet across Northern Ireland and Scotland.”