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Massive Saharan dust cloud inches towards United States

A massive dust storm from North Africa is inching closer to the United States.

A massive dust storm from the Northern Sahara desert in Africa is making its way across the Atlantic and towards the southeastern United States.

The storm has already blanketed portions of Europe, causing hazy skies and brown-tinted sunsets. 

Saharan dust storms can stretch across entire continents. In June of 2020 a large plume of dust moved across the Atlantic and stretched into portions of Florida and Texas. The haze created from the dust cloud resulted in poor air conditions and was said to may have contributed to respiratory issues associated with COVID-19. 

"They can literally cover hundreds to over 2,000 kilometers as they spread along the Equator," said Meteorologist Alex Tardy from the National Weather Service.

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"It happens when hot air lifts the dust several hundred feet to almost a mile high and easterly trade winds push the storms across the Atlantic," said Tardy. In most cases it's up around 5,000 to 15,000 feet so we see it like we see smoke from wildfires."

Tardy says the dust could affect people with respiratory conditions and result in poor air quality.

It is still unclear whether this storm will reach the east coast. That will depend on the strength of the winds over the weekend. 

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