“Godzilla” Dust Cloud From the Sahara Desert Makes Its Way To The U.S.
The massive dust cloud will spread into parts of the U.S. through the weekend, likely reducing air quality in parts of the South and possibly the Midwest and mid-Atlantic, according to the Weather Channel.
An immense dust cloud from the Sahara Desert has made its way to the U.S. Though the phenomenon happens every year, experts say 2020’s dust levels are particularly large and may exacerbate respiratory problems in individuals who are already vulnerable because of the coronavirus.
AccuWeather meteorologists have been tracking dust emerging from the Africa coast since April, but there has been an uptick since around June 14.— AccuWeather (@breakingweather) June 26, 2020
The dust is forecast to largely impact the Gulf Coast, but could push northward above a few other states: https://t.co/ggccx0dhsb pic.twitter.com/C4uWyN6bSl
The Saharan Air Layer is created by strong winds over the Sahara Desert in Africa that whip up sand around this time of year and carry it over the Atlantic Ocean. Though this happens annually, 2020’s dust cloud is the most dense it’s been in years, according to NASA’s MODIS satellite records.
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. Daily MDR AOD of 1.66 shatters previous daily record of 1.13 set July 31, 2013. #SAL pic.twitter.com/yv2VW9LUYO— Michael Lowry (@MichaelRLowry) June 24, 2020
The Environmental Protection Agency's AirNow monitoring map shows that the dust is already affecting air quality in some southern parts of the U.S. AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski also said the air quality could drop to “moderate” or “unhealthy” this weekend over South and East Texas because of the dust.
"So, people with respiratory issues should not spend any long periods of time outdoors,” Kottlowski told USA Today. “Some people with severe respiratory conditions may just want to stay indoors."
The risk for those with existing respiratory issues is even greater because of the coronavirus outbreak, as the “Godzilla” dust cloud comes while COVID-19 cases are surging in Texas and other states, including Florida. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has paused the state’s reopening plan because of the state’s massive spike.
The Weather Channel reported that the dust will continue to spread into parts of the U.S. through the weekend, likely reducing air quality in parts of the South and possibly parts of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic. The dust may also create hazy skies as well as “brilliant sunrises and sunsets,” the Weather Channel said.