Car caked with mud this morning? Thank Great Plains dust and a light rain

A car is covered in dirt and dust, with marks left by raindrops
A car is covered in dirt and dust, with marks left by raindrops, in St. Paul on Monday.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

The combination of high-level winds carrying dust from the Great Plains, and a trace of rain to bring it to the ground, left a dirty patina on cars and trucks across the region Monday morning.

That sent some drivers to car washes with vehicles that looked like they'd been abandoned outside for a lengthy period.

“A lot of people have been seeing the same thing across much of southern Minnesota — a cake-like coating on vehicles and other surfaces,” said MPR News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard. “This is dust that came all the way from Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska — that migrated up with the storm system overnight, and the few showers and thunderstorms that we did see actually helped push that dust to the ground with just a little bit of moisture. We barely saw any measurable rainfall in the Twin Cities, just enough to make that cake-like coating.”

Satellite images from the weekend showed plumes of dust sweeping across multiple states toward Minnesota.

Some parts of the state saw up to about a half-inch of rain late Sunday into early Monday — but that rainfall was spotty and not enough to relieve ongoing drought conditions across much of Minnesota.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which saw just a trace of rain overnight, is now nearly 10 inches below normal precipitation for the year. The airport has seen just four-tenths of an inch of rain since Sept. 1.

A coating of dirt and mud on a car
Dust in the atmosphere and light rain combined to leave a coating of dirt and mud on cars across the Twin Cities and much of southern Minnesota on Monday — including this car in Lake Elmo.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

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