COLUMBUS, GA (WRBL)–Here we go again! A plume of dust from the Sahara Desert will travel across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Gulf of Mexico by this weekend and early next week.
States across the Southeast will notice a little more haze in the atmosphere but the overall concentration of dust will be fairly low. We won’t notice much of a difference except for vivid sunrises and sunsets along with hazy sunshine during the afternoon.
Unfortunately one downside to the Saharan dust plume will be the dip in air quality. Those who suffer from upper respiratory issues such as allergies and asthma may become sensitive to the dust and should avoid prolonged outside exposure. Significant air quality impacts however are not expected.
What causes this?
The dust, Composed of tiny particles of sand and minerals, will be transported by the wind into atmosphere known as the Saharan Air Layer.
The Saharan Air Layer or SAL, forms over the Saharan Desert and is extremely hot and dry. As it moves over the Atlantic Ocean, it will overlay the cooler and humid airmass. The dry, hot air over the cool humid airmass will create an inversion or “lid” on the atmosphere and will limit any ongoing thunderstorm activity across the Atlantic. This combined with other atmospheric conditions, can surpress hurricane activity.
This may sound a little odd but it is actually common and happens every year. We typically see dust travel from Africa into the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico during the months of June and July but if conditions are just right, we can see this happen during the month of May.
The movement of dust will become less as we approach late summer and early fall.