After making a 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, dust from the Sahara Desert has arrived in the United States. Experts say this is the largest dust cloud in the last 50 years, prompting the nickname of “Godzilla” because of it’s colossal size.
To give you an idea of how enormous the Godzilla dust cloud is, here are images from the International Space Station.
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) June 23, 2020
“In terms of concentration and density and size, it is the most dust we’ve seen in 50 or 60 years,” said Pablo Méndez Lázaro, who is an environmental health specialist with the University of Puerto Rico.
The annual natural occurrence is officially called the “Saharan Air Layer.” It is comprised of sand, dust, and particulate matter that gets swept up into the atmosphere from the massive Sahara Desert in North Africa. The dust gets trapped in the air, usually in a two-mile thick layer of the atmosphere. The SAL typically begins about a mile above the surface and winds transport it westward, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Saharan Air Layer activity usually ramps up in mid-June, peaks from late June to mid-August, and begins to rapidly subside after mid-August,” the NOAA said.
“The main impacts of the Saharan dust are a whitening of the sky during daylight hours, redder sunsets, and decreased air quality,” the National Weather Service said.
Saharan dust has caused hazy skies in the Southeast, lowering air quality and irritating allergies — but it also made for some very vivid sunrises and sunsets. https://t.co/BcfqzrUhjl pic.twitter.com/AjHmPGG6Ji
— CNN International (@cnni) June 27, 2020
The dust plume turns skies hazy, and visibility can be significantly diminished. It will sometimes leave a thin coating on the ground.
The dust cloud can drastically reduce air quality. In the Caribbean this week, air quality plummeted to “hazardous” levels. People were warned to stay indoors, wear face masks, and use air filters.
“The tiny dust particles contained in the plume will cause eye, nose and throat irritation for anyone who comes in their path, but particularly for allergy and asthma sufferers,” Dr. J. Allen Meadows, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Sahara dust storm arrived in parts of the Caribbean and Mexico earlier this week, and is currently traveling through the United States.
— Disclose.tv ? (@disclosetv) June 22, 2020
On Friday, there were hazy skies in Panama City Beach, Houston, and Corpus Christi.
— Nicole Penny ☀ (@npenny2012) June 26, 2020
#SaharanDust arriving in Panama City Beach Thursday evening. Looks like a scene from another planet! ?
— Lauren Linahan (@LaurenWTVM) June 26, 2020
— Matt Devitt (@MattDevittWINK) June 26, 2020
— Sergio Chapa (@SergioChapa) June 26, 2020
It has arrived! ?
Green Country skies are browning up due to dust all the way from the SAHARAN DESERT! We’ll have this haze in the air this weekend… be sure to watch for a beautiful sunset this evening. #okwx #SaharanDust pic.twitter.com/DS9T1thGV7
— Michael Grogan (@GroganontheGO) June 27, 2020
‘GODZILLA DUST CLOUD’: A massive dust plume from Africa’s Sahara desert is moving over the U.S. — stretching from Texas to Virginia and triggering air quality alerts — as severe storms move into the Northeast. @Ginger_Zee with the details. https://t.co/i67OLaovZ2 pic.twitter.com/HO3kBq615z
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) June 27, 2020
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