I’ll bet the conspiracy websites had a field day last week with Europe’s bout of orange snow. But the orange snow in eastern Europe last week was a normal occurrence, according to meteorologists, and the European Space Agency (ESA) has just released this March 22, 2018, satellite image showing the cause. ESA wrote:
Sand and dust stirred up by desert storms in North Africa have caused snow in eastern Europe to turn orange, transforming mountainous regions into Mars-like landscapes.
This Copernicus Sentinel-2A image of Libya captured on March 22, 2018, shows Saharan dust being blown northwards across the Mediterranean Sea. Lifted into the atmosphere, the dust was carried by the wind and pulled back down to the surface in rain and snow. It reached as far afield as Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia.
While the orange-tinted snow baffled skiers, meteorologists say this phenomenon occurs about every five years.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) March 25, 2018
The University of Syracuse reported:
Some skiers and snowboarders even complained of getting sand in their mouths.
By the way, since it’s springtime in the Northern Hemisphere, there might be some pollen mixed with that snow, too. Pollen can cause many odd effects on the ground and in the sky – for example strange-looking pollen sunsets.
Bottom line: The orange snow in Europe in late March 2018 is a normal occurrence, stemming from windblown dust from northern Africa.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.