First Alert Weather Academy: Saharan Dust

First Alert Weather Academy: Saharan Dust

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The sky had a brown haze this past weekend. The effect was caused by Saharan dust, and for some, it may have even irritated your eyes and throat.

While it may be a more recent topic of conversation, it isn’t anything too new.

The storm systems that roll off Africa later in Hurricane Season, some of which eventually become tropical storms and hurricanes, are the same ones producing widespread wind and blowing dust across the Saharan Desert.

This dust is lofted thousands of feet into the sky. It is then picked up by the trade winds and pushed westward, over the eastern Atlantic, often through the Caribbean and into the United States or Central America.

This happens multiple times early-late spring and, particularly early summer.

The most recent wave of dust was the most significant in decades; even accumulation dust on cars and other objects in Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles.

As a Saharan dust cloud, or plume, moves over land, it can reduce air quality, filter or dim sunlight, and reduce the amount of rain that a particular area may see.

This happens not just because of the dust, but because the air associated with it is very dry, especially above the ground, or surface, where all the dust is.

This is also the primary reason why large dust events tend to limit tropical development as they move through the Atlantic Basin.

Be on the lookout as we track additional plumes of dust this hurricane season and beyond.

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