22.4 C
New York
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Saharan dust from Africa expected to bring hazy skies, colorful sunsets to Gulf this week

Dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa is currently making a 5,000 mile trek west across the Atlantic Ocean and is expected arrive in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.
Continue reading on KNWA

by: Amanda Holly

/ Updated:

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa is currently making a 5,000 mile trek west across the Atlantic Ocean and is expected arrive in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

Every year, these Saharan dust plumes are generated from strong winds over the Sahara. These winds and updrafts kick up the dry top layer of soil and raise it high into the atmosphere. Easterly trade winds can then carry the dust into the Atlantic. Sometimes, when the dust plume is large enough and the easterly winds are strong enough, the plume travels all the way to the Caribbean and even the United States.

To avoid confusion, this isn’t a typical dust storm. When the dust arrives, it is suspended high up in the atmosphere, between 5,000 feet and 20,000 feet or about one to four miles.

Even though the individual dust particles are very small, when the plume arrives, skies will become much hazier.

Hazier skies will lead to exceptionally colorful sunrises and sunsets as the light bends around and through the particulate.

Allergy sufferers may notice an increase in irritation from the dust as some of it does mix in closer to the surface.

As the dust begins to settle, large portions of it drop into the Gulf of Mexico. NASA is currently studying a link between these dust plumes and red tide. Studies have shown after large plumes arrive, there is an increase in the harmful algae.

Mixed in with the dust is iron from the topsoil in Africa. When the iron ends up in the Gulf, it actually fertilizes the water which can begin the process of the toxic algae bloom.

NASA also explained that the “dust helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilizes soils in the Amazon.”

As explained on last week’s episode of Tracking the Tropics, these dust plumes also seem to inhibit tropical development thanks to the embedded dry air, strong 25-55 mph mid-level winds along with a few other factors. However, research is on-going on this topic.

Dust plumes coming off the coast of Africa are quite normal this time of year. The plumes typically begin in mid-June and run through mid-August, peaking somewhere in the middle. According to NOAA, the plumes of dust seem to rapidly subside after mid-August, which is also why we see an uptick in tropical activity in August and September.

This particular plume seen on visible satellite over the Atlantic is rather large and dense and could linger over the southern US for several days.


- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Rudy Giuliani calls cops on Sacha Baron Cohen after being pranked

Sacha Baron Cohen has pulled off another elaborate prank at the expense of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

United Airlines to furlough 2,820 at DIA

DENVER — In the largest single mass layoff or furlough in Colorado this year, United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAL) reported to state regulators Wednesday plans to temporarily eliminate 2,820 jobs at Denver International Airport. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had ...

Tyson Chicken plant in Nashville, Ark. catches fire overnight

HOWARD COUNTY, Arkansas (KTAL/KMSS) – The Howard County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that there was a fire at the Tyson Chicken plant in Nashville, Arkansas. The fire began around 3 a.m. Thursday. We have a crew on the way to the scene to ...

Californian family’s bid to recover son’s body from NZ lake rejected

Tyler Nii drowned in Lake Wakatipu when a skydiving jump went wrong. But the NZ Police won't let his family try to retrieve his body.

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: