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Saharan Dust Makes Great Sunsets

It's that time of year when Saharan Dust moves into portions of the United States
Credit: WZDX Weather

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — We're getting to the time of year when Saharan Dust can move into different portions of the Tennessee Valley. Where does it come from? Well it's in the name. Saharan dust comes from the Sahara Desert in Africa. 

It seems a little weird to think about dust from Africa in the United States, but it is actually pretty common this time of year. It occurs when dust from the Sahara Desert gets caught in the westerlies or Trade Winds. The wind then blows the dust across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean into the United States. 

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The immediate impact on people would be the potential respiratory issues that could result from this dust. It does have an adverse effect on air quality.  

It also suppresses tropical development. It's harder for thunderstorms to develop when there is so much dust in the atmosphere over the Atlantic. They need an open atmosphere where thunderstorms can grow and build. 

This is not a quick process. It will be slow and really take the rest of the week, the weekend, and a good chunk of next week before we could even see any impacts on our air quality. 

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These impacts on air quality will be first felt along the coast, especially in Texas and Louisiana. 

The "positive" to dust from the Sahara Desert would be the fact that it almost always yields some fantastic sunsets. It's important to note that the concentration across much of Alabama will likely be low.