A plume of Saharan dust will hit the United States this week; What is that?
A huge dust cloud traveling from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States – known as the “Saharan dust plume” – is expected to make landfall this week in the southeastern states of the United States, descending like a thick gray cloud or mist over the earth and making the sunsets appear even more vivid.
Dust, called the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) by meteorologists, is a mass of dry, dusty air that forms in the Sahara Desert in spring, summer, and early fall and moves through over the tropical North Atlantic, depending on United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sahara dust plumes are normal for this time of year, although the one that started in West Africa last weekend is making headlines as one of the most extreme in recent history , appearing much clearer on satellite images than others due to its massive size, reports SCS.
This plume is is expected to hit the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the United States, including Texas and Florida, from Wednesday after crossing the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea last weekend.
The main impact will be particularly colorful sunrises and sunsets, according to the National Meteorological Service, as well as misty skies.
The plume, made up of dry air, acts as a hurricane repellant, as hurricanes need warm, humid conditions to form, according to CNN; the plume could mean fewer tropical storms as long as the SAL persists.
Here’s what this SAL looks like:
People who are allergic to dust or have respiratory problems may experience increased symptoms due to the massive amount of dust in the air. The Barbados Weather Services issued a “severe dust fog” warning, advising people with allergies to dust or with respiratory problems to travel with prescribed medication as a precaution.
Although scientists have yet to explain the enormity of this SAL, dust plumes are a normal weather phenomenon for this time of year. The dust plumes originate from strong winds in the Sahara Desert, which blow through the intertropical convergence zone in the Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands, carried over great distances by the trade winds from east to west. They usually diffuse near or in the Caribbean, another reason for the attention paid to this plume.
After making landfall in the Caribbean in recent days, local authorities are advising people with allergies to dust and respiratory problems to exercise caution. a meteorologist tweeted this image mist in Antigua.
Saharan air layer (United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)