A plume of dust from the Sahara Desert has made it to the United States Gulf Coast.
The journey started off of West Africa last weekend.
The thick dust cloud, known as the Saharan Air Layer, is making a 5,000 mile trip from the northern Africa desert to North and Central America along the east to west Trade Winds along the equator. The Saharan Air Layer is between 5,000 and 20,000 feet above the Earth's surface, and dust plumes travel over the Atlantic Ocean several times a year between spring and fall.
The Trade Winds or "Easterlies" are a belt of winds moving generally east to west at latitudes north and south of the equator. These winds are transporting dust from the Sahara Desert across the Atlantic Ocean.
The dust itself is not unusual, however, this particular cloud of dust was thicker than most.
Air quality across most of the Caribbean region fell to record “hazardous” levels Monday and experts who nicknamed the event the “Godzilla dust cloud” warned people to stay indoors and use air filters if they have one.
As of Wednesday afternoon (June 24th) the Saharan air layer dust plume has overspread the Caribbean region and most of the Gulf of Mexico. pic.twitter.com/2D5LuqwRyd— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) June 24, 2020
Many health specialists are concerned about those battling respiratory symptoms tied to COVID-19, with thousands of confirmed cases reported across the Caribbean.
The latest forecast models keep most of the dust cloud south of the Ohio River this weekend, although we could notice a little haze in the sky. If so, this could add color to sunrises and sunsets.