Florida skies to turn orange as dust storm travels over from Sahara

Cloud set to hit state on Wednesday after journey across Atlantic

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
@graemekmassie
Tuesday 15 June 2021 19:11
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Florida skies to turn orange as dust storm travels over from Sahara

Florida’s skies are set to be turned orange this week by a giant Saharan dust storm that has traveled across the Atlantic.

The dust is part of 60 million tons of sand and mineral particles that are annually swept up off the African desert floor and pushed westwards across the ocean by winds.

Weather experts predict that the cloud of dust is due to arrive in the Gulf of Mexico this week and will likely hit Florida on Wednesday.

They say that when the sun is low to the horizon its rays have to travel through more of the Earth’s atmosphere, creating orange, red and pink hues in the sky.

The dust is expected to stay around until the weekend, meteorologists say.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has warned that the dust cloud could impact people with respiratory issues or lung conditions.

They have advised people to close their windows, use an air purifier, wear a mask outdoors and check the air quality before going outside or cancel outdoor activities.

Scientists say that one upside of the dust  is that it helps suppress the development of hurricanes and tropical storms off the US coast.

“Saharan dust changes the regional climate by reflecting and absorbing the sunlight, which decreases the sea surface temperature,” Bowen Pan from Texas A&M University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, has told Newsweek.

“This decreases the energy supply to the storms. Additionally, dust also stabilises the atmosphere.”

In 2020 the “Godzilla” storm that dumped dust on North and South America was so large that it was visible from the International Space Station.

This year’s dust storms were fueled by stogy winds in Mali and Mauritania, carrying the cloud over Senegal, Gambia and Cabo Verde and out into the Atlantic.

And NASA satellites using infrared imaging picked up the cloud out over the middle of the Atlantic by 7 June.

Some of the dust even reaches the Amazon region of South America, where experts say that minerals it contains, such as iron and phosphorus act as a fertiliser.

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