How Saharan dust could impact the forecast for Alabama through this week

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It may seem a little far-fetched, but a huge plume of dust from the Sahara Desert in North Africa could bring vibrant sunsets and sunrises to central Alabama, along with serious issues for people suffering from respiratory problems.

A large plume of dust is now in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and is making a beeline for the Gulf Coast and Deep South. Saharan dust getting picked up and thrown across the Atlantic by upper-level winds is nothing new, but that mass moving all the way across the ocean is something that happens only ever so often.

Plume of Saharan dust in the Atlantic Ocean June 22, 2020.

While it might seem a little scary, that dust does some very helpful things. It bolsters beaches in the Caribbean and fertilizes soil in the Amazon. Scientists also think this dust and the dry air associated with it can help keep tropical storms and hurricanes from forming. Sunrises and sunsets where the dust migrates can be vivid as well. There can also be some negative impacts, including causing breathing issues for people with asthma and other respiratory complications.

We expect the biggest impacts from the dust to be seen and felt by Thursday and linger into the weekend. We will keep you posted of any changes to the forecast as a result of this phenomenon post photos here of the vibrant sunrises and sunsets.


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