Sahara dust storm travels from Africa to the Gulf Coast

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 5:29 AM EDT
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Moving slowly through the United States, a dust storm that originated in the Sahara may impact local air-quality conditions.

Sitting out across the Caribbean islands, this particular storm is larger and more concentrated than any storm of it's kind that's been seen in the past 50 years.

Air quality is being called “hazardous” in the Caribbean... Experts warn residents to stay indoors and use air filters if possible.

“This is the most significant event in the past 50 years,” said Pablo Méndez Lázaro, an environmental health specialist with the University of Puerto Rico. “Conditions are dangerous in many Caribbean islands.”

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 U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It can occupy a roughly two-mile thick layer in the atmosphere, the agency said.

National Weather Service experts in the US have released forecast details that indicate the storm is moving towards the Gulf of Mexico between now and Tuesday of next week.

For Michiana, dust from this storm may even affect our local air-quality levels, arriving through the final days of June. While our region won't experience dramatic conditions, a dust cloud could result in unusually hazy skies, and deeply colored sunrises and sunsets.

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