Weekend Saharan Dust Could Give Us Some Brilliant Sunsets
Look for skies around Deep East Texas to get a little more hazy this Friday and Saturday as another round of Saharan Dust is expected to make its way into the Pineywoods.
What is Saharan Dust? Where does it come from?
As the name implies, this huge layer of dust moves off the western coast of Africa (Sahara Desert) and follows the air currents in the atmosphere. The hot conditions in the desert cause the heat to rise and carry dust particles up to nearly 4 miles into the atmosphere. Tradewinds then carry the particles across the southern Atlantic Ocean, then across the Leeward and Windward Islands, then into the Caribbean Sea and eventually through the Gulf of Mexico and into our neck of the woods.
Saharan Dust...the good and the bad
Saharan Dust episodes can lead to some pretty noticeable atmospheric sights when it moves into a region. Hazy skies and brilliant sunrises and sunsets are rather common when the African dust settles into an area. That can lead to some great photo opportunities, however, Saharan Dust, depending upon its concentration, can also lead to some adverse effects, such as lowering of air quality in a region which can lead to health issues, especially for those that may already have respiratory problems.
On the flipside, there is some data those supports a theory that these episodes of Saharan Dust moving across the Atlantic and Caribbean can actually help thwart the development and/or intensification of cyclonic storms.
When is it getting here?
According to this forecast, the leading edge of the dust is expected to make it to the southern tip of Texas by Thursday evening, and then into portions of east and southeast Texas by Friday afternoon and evening. So the sunsets and sunrises on Friday, Saturday and Sunday may have a few extra colors and nuances to them.
On Wednesday morning, I was able to video an awesome-looking sun as I was traveling west of Lufkin. I'm not sure if it was the result of some of early dust particulates making their way into our atmosphere, but it was quite pretty to see.