Monster Saharan dust cloud arrives in Mexico

Pablo Tucker
June 30, 2020

A Saharan air layer happens when dust from the Sahara desert occupies a 2 to 2.5-mile thick layer of the atmosphere with the base starting about one mile above the surface.

However, what's got weather watchers taking note is how far west this particular batch of dusty air has managed to travel.

These masses of dry, dusty air blowing in from the Sahara Desert are not uncommon during the summer months, but one of this magnitude and concentration hasn't been seen in nearly 15 years. It typically peaks between June and August.

Texas, which was one of the first states to ease lockdown at the end of April, reached record COVID-19 hospitalizations for the 13th day in a row Thursday, with almost 4,400 patients.

Goggins said this dust plume is expected to eventually move up into the Gulf Coast region and gradually move to the north and northeast toward Alabama.

When dust invades Southwest Florida it can limit the amount of thunderstorms we see in the area.

But it's nothing to worry about.

The dust could also enhance Florida's already gorgeous sunsets, reflecting light off of its particles to give the sky a deep red or orange glow.

The so-called "Gorilla Dust Cloud" struck Mississippi's gulf coast Thursday after charting its path across the Caribbean this week where air quality plunged to "hazardous" levels.

Besides the pretty sunrises and sunsets the dust has another positive effect: helping squelch tropical storm development in the Atlantic.

"Right now our tropical activity is basically zero across the Atlantic and that's actually because of the dust".

Houston Methodist Hospital warns that reactions to the Saharan dust plume could mimic COVID-19 symptoms, including a dry cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and mild chest pain.

After making a 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, dust from the Sahara Desert has arrived in the United States.

The dust may not do much to temper Alabama's summertime pattern of afternoon showers and storms, however.

We suspect that the size and concentration of this year's dust cloud is a result of climate change and should serve as a reminder to mankind that we can not allow our focus on combating the novel coronavirus pandemic to distract us from the role we must play in mitigating the effects of global warming.

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