Saharan Dust Plume Crossing the Atlantic, Southeast Could See Impacts Late This Weekend

Lead Forecaster Daniel Crawley

Good Wednesday morning to everyone, every time about this time of the year when the hurricane season is about to crank up easterly trade winds help gather dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa and transports a plume of dust across the Atlantic Ocean.

That is currently ongoing in the Eastern Atlantic and will be heading west over the next several days.

Model Generated Dust Plume Forecast

The dust plume will reach the Caribbean by Thursday and will begin to turn northwest toward the Gulf of Mexico by this weekend. Portions of Florida and the Northern Gulf Coast could see an increase in Saharan dust this weekend, so if you have any plans for that part of the country be mindful of that.

The cold front that is forecasted to cross the Carolinas this weekend will keep the dust plume to our south through the weekend, however next week as the flow comes back around to the southwest some of that dust may work into North Carolina.

Impacts of Saharan Dust

Of course when we see these episodes of increased Saharan dust during the late spring and summer people want to know how it impacts them. First off in a positive manner the dust particles in the air provide a really vibrant sunrise and sunset which for those are into photography gives a great opportunity

Another positive is the Saharan Dust helps squelch tropical development. Computer models recently have shown their overzealous bias in spinning up tropical systems. Now that a Sahara dust plume is moving in that should be even more reason to be skeptical of development over the next couple weeks.

The big negative to Saharan dust is that it causes a reduction in air quality depending on how heavy the plume is. Right now we don’t see the upcoming pattern supportive of really thick haze or dust in the air across North Carolina. So that will be good news for those allergy sufferers, they are usually the ones who feel the impact. We will definitely keep an eye on it over the next few days.

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