A cloud of Saharan dust will sweep over the UK today, causing pollution levels to surge.

The Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued toxic smog alerts for southern and central England.

'Blood rain', caused by the dust mixing with rain, is expected in some parts of the country.

Defra's air pollution forecast for Thursday, December 17
Defra's air pollution forecast for Thursday, December 17

But what's in store for Cheshire West?

The region is at 'low' risk, so the likelihood of witnessing the phenomenon in these parts is slim.

Instead, we will see heavy showers and temperatures between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius.

Advice for asthma sufferers

Health experts have warned people with asthma and other respiratory conditions to stay indoors and avoid exercise.

Asthma UK director of advice and support Andrew Proctor said: "People with asthma need to take extra care.

"We are facing a perfect storm of asthma triggers, with air pollution and weather changes increasing the risk of potentially fatal asthma attacks for millions of people with the condition.

"Two thirds of people with asthma find that air pollution makes their asthma worse, and even more tell us that changes in the winter weather can trigger asthma attacks.

"If air pollution or cold weather makes your asthma worse, do check forecasts and carry your reliever inhaler with you at all times."

With the UK currently in the throes of unseasonably high temperatures, some forecasters say we could be in for the mildest Christmas on record.