Boy, 2020 sure has been an interesting year thus far, hasn’t it? What with an ongoing global pandemic, the threat of murder hornets, and massive bouts of civil unrest here in America, it can be hard to believe that this isn’t just some fever dream we will one day be unable to remember.
Unfortunately, it seems as though this year isn’t quite through with us yet, as a massive Saharan dust barrels toward the United States.
This dust plume, known as the Saharan Air Layer, is a phenomenon that develops every year off the coast of Africa, where powerful winds from thunderstorms over the Sahel can push the dust many thousands of feet up into the atmosphere. A few times a year, that layer of dust sends out vast clouds that then drift over the sea.
But this year, the dust clouds that normally do little more than amplify sunsets have drifted far lower to coat Caribbean islands with a thin layer of dust and choke the air with a dry haze that in some places cut visibility by more than half. The cloud is forecast to sweep across the southeastern United States—Texas and Louisiana in particular—on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Another wave of dust is expected to follow.
Pictures of the storm’s impact on the Caribbean were soon flooding social media.
A large plume of Saharan dust can be seen on GOES-East satellite imagery this morning across the eastern tropical Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/fZ7WxN4XfS
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) June 18, 2020
African dust storm darkening the skies over the Caribbean, heading to Texas. pic.twitter.com/JJqUWeUeaQ
— Bradley Hayden, Ph. D. (@EffectiveInter2) June 23, 2020
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) June 22, 2020
One can only imagine what the second half of the year has in store for us.