Its that time of year again where we talk about Saharan dust here in Southwest Florida, but how does it make it all the way across the Atlantic into our area? It all starts out when the wind kicks up in Africa, more specifically the Deserts of Mail and Mauritania. Dust then travels several thousands of miles across the Atlantic via trade winds.
Eventually this dust makes its trek through Hispaniola and Cuba, and eventually to Southwest Florida. The Saharan dust layer has both positive and negative impacts for our area.
The good news is dust can slow down or even stop tropical storm formation by drying tropical air. It also lowers our rain chances in Southwest Florida as well as the coverage of storms. This will take place through Saturday before dust exits our area.
Dust scatters light in the atmosphere which provides beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Cloud cover may provide a problem in viewing these thanks to a tropical system in the western Gulf.
2020 saw one of the biggest Saharan dust events in recent history. Twenty four tons of dust was transported from Africa to North and South America. This was so massive that astronauts at the International Space Station could see it. It was given the name Godzilla.