If you’ve ever walked out to find a dirt-splotched car after a rainstorm, you can likely sympathize with drivers in parts of the Midwest who may regret spending money on a car wash last weekend.
The weather phenomenon known as mud rain, also called rain dust, happens when wind-borne dust mixes with a storm system that deposits muddy drops – often miles away.
For car owners in Kansas City, the storm system that moved into the Kansas City area last week carried particles from significant dust storms in western Texas.
I sent this out yesterday before the rain arrived. Certainly not the 1st time this has happened but if your wondering why your car that was outside looks like this (my car)…at least maybe you knew it was coming. JL #mowx #kswx #fox4kc https://t.co/iX45ffxeom pic.twitter.com/PWdhR7rPNd— Fox 4 Weather KC (@fox4wx) February 27, 2023
The storm created a vacuum and carried all of that dust hundreds of miles northeast into the Kansas City metro.
The dust mixed with the rain enough to turn it into mud. The “mud rain” then stuck to vehicles, but it did not rain enough to wash off the mud.
“Dirty rain last night was caused by a dust storm Sunday afternoon in Texas/New Mexico,” Jacob Lanier, of Nexstar’s WDAF, said on Twitter. “That dust in the atmosphere was condensation nuclei for raindrops in the storms that tracked through Oklahoma, Kansas, & Missouri. Water is all evaporated now, so the dust remains.”
While splotchy car paint and windows can be frustrating, another consequence can be respiratory issues as the fine dust contaminates the air we breathe, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.