If you’re interested in finding out how to clean your car after blood rain, you’re probably well acquainted with the phenomenon and can skip ahead, but it’s worth explaining Xita Tal-Hamrija for the uninitiated.
What is it?
Blood rain is the more poetic term for what is essentially red rain. Sometimes red rain is caused by the presence of algae spores in the upper atmosphere, but the blood rain we’re concerned with is caused by dust. Since ancient times, people have observed blood rains, and, expectedly, they were considered a fairly bad omen.
Nowadays we know that it’s not actually raining blood, but during a blood rain we might still have cause for concern, especially for the cleanliness of our cars.
Blood rains occur when sand from the Sahara desert or from the Atlas mountains is whipped up and carried along by atmospheric depressions coursing through North Africa. These dust filled clouds most commonly touch down on the Iberian Peninsula, or of course, in Malta.
In the past, Sahara sand has been spotted as far afield as Northern Europe, when particularly extreme weather caused blood rains and confused drivers in parts of the UK. There are quite a few phrases that you might hear to describe blood rain. In parts of the world it is known as snow dust, rain dust, muddy rain, red rain, coloured rain, or simply rain dust. In Malta of course, it goes by the name of Xita Tal-Hamrija.
Rain with lots of red sand suspended in it makes for an interesting weather event, but it can also be really annoying. When those red clouds come to a rolling, car owners in particular get a little angsty. That’s because, after a blood rain, everything magically becomes covered in particulate matter or dust.
How to deal with it?
The first piece of advice when dealing with blood rain, is, don’t wash your car if you hear of a blood rain coming. Keep an eye on the weather forecast during the stormy season in the Sahara. There’s nothing more annoying than spending hours cleaning and polishing your car only to wake up the next morning and find it coated in a layer of red dust. Cleaning your car should definitely take place after a blood rain, rather than before.
The main culprit when it comes to blood rain in Malta are Sirocco winds. Sirocco is the term given to Southeast to Southwest dry desert winds generally. These winds start in North Africa and head off towards the Mediterranean. These winds are hot, dry, and usually dusty. Sometimes the dust levels will be minor, but Siroccos can often cause poor visibility, and when combined with water in the upper atmosphere, blood rain. Rarely, the amount of sand picked up by Siroccos can be so great as to cause sandstorms in the Mediterranean.
But is cleaning up after a blood rain simply a case of washing your car as usual? Not exactly. With your car exterior covered in fine grains of sand, you certainly don’t want to start off with a sponge, as you might otherwise.
Desert dust isn’t going to clean itself off your car, but, as with most things, there’s a right and wrong way to go about the job. First off, you need to give your car a thorough rinse to get rid off any larger particles of sand that might scratch your paintwork. If you start off with a sponge, you might be rubbing those grains of desert sand around your car exterior, damaging the paintwork in the process. The blood rain itself won’t scratch up your paint work, but after a Sirocco blows in, you’ll often find a lot of damaged car exteriors. This unfortunate state of affairs is purely down to car owners who haven’t thought about the consequences of grinding sand into their paintwork.
Of course, you can always take your car to a garage or a detailer for professional car care, but as long as you give your car a thorough hands free rinse, you should be able to take care of the job yourself. Once you’ve rinsed your car with plenty of water, then you can begin going about business as usual. After getting rid of larger dust particles, you should start cleaning with a good car shampoo.
Use a bioorganic car shampoo if you’re intent on cleaning your car the eco friendly way. It’s important not to use any old regular household detergent as the nasty chemicals in these products can seriously damage your paint work. A good car shampoo, maybe a car cleaning mitt, and plenty of water should do the trick when it comes to eliminating that pesky film of dust – but remember, rinse before you begin working on your car.
After the wash, you can wax and polish your car using a good quality car wax and car polish. This will help ensure that your car is better protected from any future blood winds. Just make sure that the weather event is fully over before you begin cleaning, otherwise you could end up having to clean all over again.