Next Menace: Dust Clouds

Plumes from Sahara Desert reach Florida, with more to come
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2023 5:15 PM CDT
Next Up: Saharan Dust Clouds
A dust cloud from the Sahara sits over London in March 2022.   (James Manning/PA via AP)

The southeastern US dodged the dangerously unhealthy smoke from wildfires in Canada, but a similar menace is moving in: dust clouds. Plumes moving from the Sahara Desert have been spotted by satellite over the eastern Caribbean Sea, southern Gulf of Mexico, and off the western coast of Africa, Accuweather reports. Before the weekend is out, meteorologists say, coastal areas of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama could be affected. The dust had already crossed the Caribbean and reached south Florida on Saturday; the National Weather Service tweeted a photo of a hazy sky over the Keys. The Weather Service said the Tampa area, for example, can expect maximum impact on Sunday, per the Tampa Bay Times.

"Saharan dust is common most years across parts of the Atlantic basin and sometimes spreads as far west as the Caribbean and Florida," said AccuWeather's Dan DePodwin. "The location and magnitude of the dust changes frequently throughout the season." So far, these clouds don't appear to be as bothersome as those of June 2020, but that plume off Africa looks to be bigger and denser than the others and could make it to Florida by Tuesday, per Forbes. Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba also can expect worsening air quality. By blocking sunlight, the clouds could ease the heat in Florida, where some places have been dealing with temperatures over 100. (More Sahara stories.)

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