Pin your pics! Vibrant sunrises, sunsets possible through the weekend

Summer heat and humidity will be joined by some haze, courtesy of the Sahara Desert.

How good the sunrise or sunset will be this weekend

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The big story in the weather world for much of the last week has been the plume of dust from the Sahara Desert. This is mostly a good thing. Outside of the possibility for slightly poorer air quality, this suppresses tropical development and can produce vibrant sunrises and sunsets.

So, we’ll break up this article into two sections: 1) Saharan Dust Impacts and 2) Our Forecast.


The majority of the dust will stay to our southwest Friday evening and Saturday morning. However, the curvature of the earth could work in our favor. As the sun rises, we may still see its light bounce off the distant dust and produce a nice sunset and/or sunrise.

Tracking Sahara dust - Saturday morning

Throughout the day Saturday, we’ll notice more haze high up in the sky thanks to an increased amount of dust thousands of feet above us. It’s for that reason that we expect a nicer sunset Saturday.

Tracking Sahara dust - Saturday evening

The Saharan dust outlook for Sunday is entirely dependent on storms or cloud debris from storms to our north. There will still be a limited concentration of dust around, so it’s still possible that we see some vibrant colors in the sky in the morning or evening.


Aside from the dust, there’s still a forecast to tell. Friday and Saturday, the wind actually works in our favor. Coming down the mountains, the wind will allow the air to warm and turn fairly dry too.

What downsloping wind means

That’s why we expect things to stay fairly hot Friday and Saturday. While a stray storm cannot be ruled out Saturday, the better chance comes Sunday.

Weekend Planner

This, as a front to our north teams up with our warm and humid air. A couple storms late Saturday night and early Sunday morning may weasel their way down to our area. However, the better chance comes after about 1 or 2 p.m. Sunday.

What We're Tracking - Sunday afternoon

This front likely will meander nearby throughout much of next week, as the atmosphere transitions into a holding pattern. This “omega block” results in stagnant weather patterns for days at a time. Low pressure over New England will force this front southward, keeping things breezy at times next week but keeping the daily shot for heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

What the "Omega block" means for our weather

This kind of pattern may very well last into the 4th of July weekend.

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.