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Saharan Dust Plume Wisps Its Way Into Maryland This Weekend

Dust Plume
While dust routinely blows across the Atlantic Ocean, scientists rarely see plumes as large and dense with particles as the one that darkened Caribbean skies in June 2020. earthobservatory.nasa.gov image

If the sunset’s captivating colors seem more brilliant and the air a bit thicker and harder to breathe this weekend and into next week, it’s likely because of an “extraordinarily rare” event where Saharan dust blows in from Africa. Scientists anticipate a considerably large dust storm, so the skies instead may gray and darken, block the sunrise and sunset altogether.

The culprit happens to be an almost 5,000-mile-long plume of dust swirling toward the United States off the Sahara Desert. It’s first destination was the Gulf of Mexico then toward Texas and on to the Florida Panhandle. Not only will it turn the skies an odd color, it may actually cause a rare phenomenon of brown rain falling, according to The Washington Post.

The Saharan dust plume, scientifically known as Saharan Air Layer, has already drastically reduced the air quality in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Guadeloupe and other locations where it has blanketed the regions. It’s also reducing the amount of solar radiation extending down to the Earth’s surface. According to research from the University of Puerto Rico, the 2020 Saharan Air Layer will house the highest concentration of particles ever seen in the past 50 to 60 years.

The dust plume is expected to move into the southern mid-Atlantic and sections of the Carolinas likely Sunday.

The only positive coming out of the Saharan desert dust storm is that it may actually help quiet tropical cyclone activity in the foreseeable future as it brings with it hot, dry desert air and strong winds.

To see the story by Kristin Danley-Greiner as it originally appeared on Patch.com, click here

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