Dust from Sahara Desert likely to create beautiful sunrises, sunsets next week

Dust moving east to west can enhance the color in the sky but also limit hurricane development too

Photo Credit: Mary Gaskins - Huddleston (WSLS)

ROANOKE, Va.Make sure to send your sunrise and sunset pictures any time to Pin It!

You might think this is a bit of a stretch, but I promise you it isn’t. In fact, it’s not rare for Saharan dust to make it into the southern U.S.

The wind close to the equator ordinarily flows from east to west. This can pick up a layer of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa and move it along/north of the equator into parts of the Caribbean and eventually into the southeastern U.S.

Dust from the Sahara Desert to move into the southern US

This can be seen as beneficial for two reasons.

1. The dry air at the mid-levels of the atmosphere that comes along with this dusty layer can limit hurricane development. With that plume over the Gulf and Caribbean, that decreases our likelihood of a developing tropical system next week.

2. The dust is just another group of particles that can add color to a sunrise or sunset. When the sun is low on the horizon, its beams spread out and can reflect off these dust particles. This would then create wonderful hues of purple, red, orange or yellow. The better odds of that would be closer to the Gulf Coast, but could even stretch this far north too. You can always send your pictures through Pin It.

One downside is that if dust concentration were high enough, which is unlikely to be the case for us, air quality would drop off.

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.