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Saharan Dust Brings Impacts to U.S.

27 Jun 2020, 6:00 pm

Saharan dust has made quite an impact across the southeast over the last several days dropping visibility and air quality but also aiding in some amazing sunrises and sunsets along the Gulf Coast.

As a result of this current plume, Air Quality Alerts continue through the weekend.

This is caused by the eastward-moving plume of Saharan dust, which is most common during the months of May, June, and July. Each year, the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) moves off the west coast of Africa following east-to-west trade winds.  Meteorologist Rob Bradley recently went into more details about this phenomenon here.

While responsible for creating the smoke-like haze across the mid and high levels of the atmosphere, the SAL is also helpful in suppressing tropical development. Dry air mixes into the middle and higher levels of the atmosphere, preventing or substantially reducing the ability for tropical storms and/or hurricanes to develop.

I spoke with Greg Carbin from the NOAA/NWS Weather Prediction Center to learn more about this pattern.


Over the weekend, the bulk of the dust will remain across the Southern US, but also expand into the Midwest and parts of the Mid-Atlantic, reducing visibility and increasing haze there.

Here’s a detailed look at the timeline and when you might experience the SAL. Watch where the concentration of dust moves to in the next few days as it moves north around an area of high pressure anchored over the eastern U.S.:

Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on the progression of this layer of Saharan dust and its impacts on the Caribbean and the United States.


About the author
Meredith is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist as designated by the American Meteorological Society.  She was born and raised in Cleveland but has worked from coast to coast covering almost every type of weather.  Meredith is a weather, space, and STEM journalist and has been live out in the field during destructive tropical storms on the Gulf Coast of Florida, raging wildfires in Southern Cali... Load Morefornia, and covered the wreckage from tornadoes in the Great Plains. In 2009, she reported on the damaging hail storm during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and in 2017, the historic California winter storms that produced record rain totals and devastating flash flooding.  Prior to joining WeatherNation, Meredith worked at KEYT/KKFX in Santa Barbara, CA, KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD, WWSB-TV in Sarasota, FL, and began her career as an intern at WGN-TV in Chicago.  She was Santa Barbara's "Favorite Weathercaster of the Year" in 2016 and the Community Partner of the Year in 2017 for her volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties and awarded with the 2018 Valparaiso University Alumni Association First Decade Achievement Award. Meredith is the current chair of the American Meteorological Society's Station Scientist Committee, which focuses on raising greater awareness & outreach when it comes to science education for viewers.  She's also an accomplished journalist, producing weather and science stories including rocket launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the new GOES-16 satellite and it's impacts on weather forecasting.  Meredith was personally invited by NASA's Johnson Space Center to interview astronauts on the International Space Station and was the only meteorologist in the nation to do an exclusive report accompanying the GOES-West satellite from Colorado to Florida, reporting on and covering it's launch in 2018.  Meredith's also worked on features that took her paragliding along the coast, white water rafting in Northern California, learning to surf in the Pacific Ocean, and how to be an aerial photographer while flying a single engine plane! Say hi on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn!