Last week a batch of Saharan dust was carried all the way form the coast of Africa, across the Atlantic, and into the Gulf of Mexico. A thin layer was able to make it over land, and helped contribute to some particularly vibrant sunsets for us here in the Southeast!
The dust has since dissipated from a combination of a shift in winds and rain, which will helps ‘clean’ the air of particulates like dust. Another batch is currently moving into the Gulf though, and could bring us another more fiery sunsets through the end of the week.
These waves of dust are swept off of the west coast of Africa, and during summer can often drift across the Atlantic toward North America courtesy of the trade winds. That’s a long trip though, and the dust generally only makes it all the way to the U.S. a few times in a season. As for this week, it’s thanks to a developing region of high pressure that could help usher the dust toward the Gulf states again.
It’s tough to get a noticeable level of saharan dust all the way into the Tennessee Valley, so if we do get any impact, it would be subtle. It’s still pretty impressive that it gets this close to us at all though!
When we have dust in the air, it can enhance our sunsets by adding particles to scatter the sunlight. The particles of dust are just large enough to scatter light within the visible spectrum, usually casting out a deeper red view as the sun sets.
If you notice an especially stunning sunset, share your photos with us! You can submit them through Live Alert 19, or using the button below: