Hazy Skies? Blame the Sahara
If the sky looks a little hazier here in Central Texas over the next few days, it’s not necessarily air pollution you’re seeing. It’s likely the result of extreme weather half a world away.
Every now and again, massive sandstorms kick up in the Saharan Desert. That would normally go unnoticed in Central Texas, except when the dust from those storms is picked up by Atlantic trade winds, as it is around this time every year.
“And these trade winds will actually transport the dust all the way across the Atlantic,” said Bob Rose, chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority, “all the way through the Caribbean, all the way through the Gulf of Mexico, and they then end up in Texas.”
Rose says that’s what will be happening this weekend. And as some of that dust filters back to the ground, people with breathing problems might want to stay indoors.
“Because these very fine particulate levels will be fairly high this weekend, at least in the moderate category,” Rose said.
Now, to be clear, the dust we’re talking about is only a fraction of the circumference of a human hair. So you shouldn’t expect a sandstorm of Lawrence of Arabia proportions. But you may notice hazier skies. And, says Tim Oram with the national weather service, the annual event does serve as a reminder of how interconnected we all are.
“In the pacific Northwest, they’ll see the dust from China,” Oram said. “Our weather influences other people’s weather as well.”
The Saharan dust is expected to blow past us and into the Midwest by the beginning of next week.