Saharan Dust Making Yearly Visit to Texas Next Week

June 14, 2024 – Computer models suggests that a light plume of Saharan dust may begin to arrive over portions of deep South Texas and the lower coastal bend of Texas next week.

The dust cloud is officially called the Saharan Air Layer. It forms in the late spring or early summer every year due to storms in Africa’s Sahel region bordering the Sahara Desert. And then, it drifts across the Atlantic Ocean into the western hemisphere.

Satellite imagery of the Sand Plume in 2020

Estimates range from 60 – 200 million tons of Saharan dust being swept into the upper atmosphere each year. The vast majority of that sand falls into the ocean between continents and never reaches land.

The sand particles are rich in iron, and may help reflect heat and radiation back into space. This could reduce ocean water heating, and potentially reduce the severity of frequency of cyclones.

Because Saharan dust includes a type of sand not found in our area, it can trigger your immune system to react with symptoms typical of springtime allergies.

The benefit to this yearly visitors arrival: the dust helps create beautiful sunsets.

The sun’s white light is composed of all the colors of the rainbow. Our skies are normally blue because the gases that make up the atmosphere naturally scatter blue hues (shorter wavelengths) as opposed to the yellow-orange-red hues (longer wavelengths). Sunsets and sunrises take on more yellow and reddish hues because the low-angle sunlight passes through more of the atmosphere before it reaches your eyes. A heavy load of dust in the atmosphere can enhance this effect, leading to longer-lasting, duskier colors that cause vivid sunsets and sunrises.

Author: KSST Webmaster

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