After an unseasonably warm weekend across the region, a round of thunderstorms swept through Sunday night and into Monday morning. Usually, rain will wash a lot of dirt and grime off your vehicle. This round of rain did the opposite for many.

So, even if you went to bed last night with a clean (or reasonably clean) vehicle, you likely woke up with a dusty film all over your car, truck, SUV, or whatever else you drive. How does that work?

The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered an explanation in a tweet, including a video of what led to the dusty aftermath of our end-of-weekend rain.

In the tweet, they explained that dust from the Central Plains region of the country got kicked up into the atmosphere by windy conditions ahead of a cold front. It was carried northeast, then fell with the rain that we got across Minnesota and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest.

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As the rain fell from these storms, it carried dust particles in the raindrops back to the ground again in what you could think of basically as very diluted mud. When the rainwater evaporated, it left behind a dusty residue on things like your car.

So, why doesn’t this happen more often? It was sort of a “perfect combination” of conditions. Areas in the Central Plains are dealing with drought conditions right now, so dust is more prevalent. A strong low pressure system set up to the west of Minnesota to create windy conditions to kick up that dust and blow it north. That same system ignited rain, which then brought the dust back down in the form of dirty rain.

So, in short, you just had a little bit of Kansas or Nebraska on your car this morning, thanks to Mother Nature.

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