Saharan dust settles over South Florida

Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 2:55 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Another plume of Saharan Dust has positioned itself over a large portion of Florida on Thursday, reducing rain chances to only about 10%.

The dry and dusty airmass not only significantly lowers the possibility of summertime afternoon storms but also stifles tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Saharan Air Layer activity usually ramps up in mid-June, peaks from late June to mid-August, and begins to rapidly subside after mid-August," according to NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory website.

The dust cloud can be seen from space, creating hazy conditions.

"It's kind of amazing when you think about it. Sixty million tons of dust annually are transported from the Saharan Desert in Africa all the way across the [Atlantic] Ocean over to the United States," WPTV First Alert Weather Meteorologist Kate Wentzel said.

Many residents enjoy a break from the rain, which can be so prevalent across Florida this time of the year.

However, the dust can be upsetting to those with allergies and agitating to people sensitive to the poorer air quality.

Some people may notice irritation to their eyes, ears or throat from the dust.

"These little particles of dust can be very irritating to someone's airway, causing symptoms of congestion, runny nose, trouble breathing, particularly in patients who have COPD or asthma," Dr. Elena Perez, an allergist, said. "It could set off an exacerbation of their symptoms."

"In general, it is important that people with asthma and other chronic lung diseases take precautions to maintain control of their underlying conditions and reduce exposure to dust by limiting time outdoors during dust storms," NOAA says.

Perez said the dust has the potential to be dangerous when you breathe it in.

"There have been some studies that link exposure to the Sahara dust to increased episodes of hospitalizations, increased morbidity from these underlying conditions, so it can be a serious health issue for some people, whereas other people might not even realize that anything is happening," Perez said.

She recommends taking a look at the air quality reports and staying indoors during the times of highest concentrations of dust. If you do have to go outside, consider wearing a mask.

The sweltering temperatures will continue in South Florida as the sticky summer conditions persist, so remember to drink plenty of water if you are working outside. The heat index continues to be near 100 degrees.

Rain chances will remain low through the weekend with only a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms through Sunday.

The dust is expected to travel out of South Florida by the end of the week.

Scripps Only Content 2022