MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Just weeks after a toxic plume was released following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, residents around the Eastern Panhandle and up into Maryland reported seeing a fine ash or dust on their vehicles Thursday.  Many were concerned enough to reach out to emergency services.

Accuweather’s Bill Deger says it’s likely dust blown over from another part of the country.  “I’ve seen a lot of reports, people thinking it’s pollen or ash, but it appears to just be dust that moved through the plains and across the country.”

Deger says the dust arrived in West Virginia Thursday and then made its way east to Philadelphia.  “I pulled up some satellite pictures and data from yesterday (Thursday), and it looks like this is dust that originated from parts of the southern plains.  You have to go back to New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma to find the origins of what looks like some dust that was carried by high altitude winds across the country.”

He says it’s the reason for the beautiful sunrises and sunsets folks in the Panhandle have been snapping pics of for social media.  “When you have a lot of airborne particles like dust or like smoke or ash, it can make the sunsets and sunrises appear more vibrant and that’s what people have been noticing lately because the light is scattered more in the atmosphere when you have these particles aloft.”

Bill Deger was a guest Friday on Panhandle Live. You can hear the full interview on our Panhandle Live Facebook and Spotify.