Another dust storm from the Sahara to hit US this week


Another week, another Saharan dust storm.

If you missed out on the first round of Saharan dust that coated parts of the southern U.S. last week, you’ll get another chance this week.

Yet another plume is forecast to reach the western Gulf Coast and Lower Mississippi Valley on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. It could linger near the western and northern Gulf coasts into Thursday, according to the latest forecast, said.

“The main impacts of the Saharan dust will be hazy skies during the day, locally reduced visibility, degraded air quality, but with potentially colorful sunrises and sunsets,” the weather service said.

Lower concentrations of dust are forecast to spread up the Plains states, while some is expected to spread eastward into the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic, according to the weather service.

The mass of extremely dry and dusty air known as the Saharan Air Layer forms over the Sahara Desert and moves across the North Atlantic every three to five days from late spring to early fall, peaking in late June to mid-August, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It can occupy a roughly 2-mile thick layer in the atmosphere, the agency said.

Saharan dust tracks as far west as the Caribbean Sea, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico each year, said.

One other benefit from the Saharan dust is that it tends to prevent tropical storms and hurricanes from developing: “Tropical storms need a lot of moist air and relatively calm upper level winds to form,” Aaron Treadway, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said. “The lack of moisture and increased winds are not conducive for tropical storm development.”

In fact, this outbreak of dust, along with unfavorable upper-level winds, will likely put a lid on any significant tropical development in the near-term, according to meteorologist Chris Dolce.


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