Dust cloud in the Sahara desert moves into the US and hits Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi
A huge cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is drifting 5,000 miles across the Atlantic towards the US — and experts have warned it could cause extreme heat and affect air quality in five southeastern states.
Skies over Florida, along with southern parts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, will look “a little hazy” and may turn brown from the sand plume as it lingers over the weekend.
Along with haze, the desert dust will catalyze scorching temperatures of around 105 degrees in the Sunshine State and an increase in allergies — but it will also make for brighter sunsets and suppress tropical thunderstorms, meteorologists have said.
Experts call the clouds the “Saharan Air Layer” – defined as “a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during late spring, summer and early fall.”
When this air mass is combined with strong jet streams — such as those currently sweeping across the Atlantic Ocean and heading toward the southeast coast — the plumes can travel thousands of miles.
All of Florida is expected to be affected by the Sahara Air Layer, along with southern parts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, forecasters have warned
A huge cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert is drifting 5,000 miles across the Atlantic towards the US — and experts have warned it could bring extreme 109-degree heat to Florida
The dust is so dense it could be seen from space on Thursday, when NOAA’s weather satellite spotted the first cloud over the eastern Caribbean Sea and the Lesser Antilles
AccuWeather tracks “several large clouds of dust” currently emanating from Africa’s 3.6 million square mile blazing hot desert — while warning that even larger plumes are predicted next week.
The immense clouds are expected to cross the entire ocean before reaching Florida and the Caribbean on Saturday, along with parts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi on Sunday.
“Things might look a little hazy in cities like Tampa, Orlando and Miami as some drier air comes in,” Accuweather forecaster Bernie Rayno said.
The dust is so dense that it could be seen from space on Thursday, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather satellite detected the first cloud over the eastern Caribbean Sea and the Lesser Antilles.
Meanwhile, the larger plume expected next week is only just surfacing off the African coast.
Dense grains of dust interact with the light to produce daytime haze and stunning pink and orange sunsets, while the Sahara air – which is 50% drier than the typical Floridian atmosphere – can suppress storms by preventing cloud formation.
Florida is currently under a heat advisory, with meteorologists warning that temperatures are likely to rise to 109 degrees on Saturday.
The suspended dust can also cause allergy-like symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing.
According to NOAA, outbreaks of the Saharan air layer usually occupy a 2 to 4 kilometer thick layer of the atmosphere, with the base starting about 1.5 kilometers above the surface.
This means it won’t affect air quality as badly as the recent Canadian wildfires continue to burn — which sporadically choke New York City and the East Coast throughout the summer.
According to Michael Norton, director general of the Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, there were 639 active fires in Canada on Wednesday, 351 of which were out of control.
There have been 3,412 fires so far this year, well above the 10-year average of 2,751.
Experts call the clouds the “Saharan Air Layer” — defined as “a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during late spring, summer and early fall.”
According to NOAA, outbreaks of the Saharan air layer usually occupy a 2 to 4 kilometer thick layer of the atmosphere, with the base starting about 1.5 kilometers above the surface
Canada’s fires have already broken records for total area burned, the number of people forced to evacuate their homes and the cost of fighting the blazes — and the fire season is only halfway through, officials have warned.
Meanwhile, air quality in Florida is currently rated “Good” in most places by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, meaning there is little particulate matter in the air.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) ratings, which range from 0 to 500, are currently mostly below 50 for almost all areas in the state and qualify as “Good.”
The incoming Sahara plume could cause an increase in the AQI of just over 50, which is categorized as “Medium.”