Thickest Saharan dust ever recorded in Caribbean arrives in Texas

Thickest Saharan dust ever recorded in Caribbean arrives in Texas(Source

The much-discussed cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa will arrive in Central Texas starting Wednesday in light amounts. Thicker dust and haze are forecast to blow into the area Thursday through Saturday, limiting visibility and potentially capping rain chances as well. Large clouds of dust from the Sahara frequently blow across the Atlantic during the summer months driven by the prevailing easterly winds, suppressing hurricane formation on their journey toward the United States. While it is not uncommon for these to appear from time to time in central Texas, this dust cloud is particularly thick.

Michael Lowry, former scientist with University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), posted on Twitter this morning that “The ongoing Saharan #dust outbreak across the tropical Atlantic is by far the most extreme of the MODIS satellite record — our most detailed, continuous record of global dust back to 2002.” This dust, or “Saharan Air Layer (SAL)”, brings very low relative humidity in the lower and mid-levels of the atmosphere. This could limit rain chances locally Thursday and Friday as the dry, dusty air battles moisture and instability already in place over the state. Haze and dust appear to be most dense in our area Thursday through Saturday. Dust should lighten and exit the area later this weekend. Additional particulate matter in the atmosphere during these dust events enhance the sky colors at sunrise and sunset, but also may irritate your eyes and throat if you have allergies or asthma. There are no major air quality impacts expected in central Texas.

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