If you were planning on spending some time outdoors this weekend, you might want to think again. A massive dust cloud is heading toward North America and could bring with it a range of unpleasant effects.
The thick, Saharan dust clouds are created by strong harmattan winds in the Sahara desert and this one can even be seen from space! These large-scale atmospheric transport phenomena can carry the dust thousands of miles away, bringing it to the Caribbean and North America.
The event is known as an African Easterly Wave (AEW). It’s a mass of low-pressure air that moves from east to west and brings with it strong winds, rain, and thunderstorms. The AEW has been linked to several extreme weather events, including Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
Health Issues Related to Dust Storms
The dust particles in these storms can cause a range of health issues. The most common are respiratory irritation, asthma exacerbations, and eye irritation. People with chronic lung conditions should be especially cautious when the storm reaches their area.
Children, the elderly, and pregnant women are at significantly higher risk for complications due to the dust cloud. Symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing should be taken seriously and medical attention should be sought out if they worsen.
While the dust cloud may cause some discomfort in the short term, it can also bring with it a range of benefits. The dust helps fertilize soil and bring vital nutrients to agricultural areas, increasing crop yields and providing more food for people across the globe. In addition, the particles help reflect sunlight away from Earth, helping to cool temperatures during summer months.
Ultimately, the dust cloud is a part of nature and one that we are all likely to experience throughout our lives. By taking extra precautions and staying informed, you can make sure you stay safe in the short-term while also understanding the long-term benefits of the phenomenon!
The good news is that the dust cloud is expected to dissipate by Sunday evening, so hopefully everyone affected can enjoy a clearer sky shortly! Until then, it’s important to take extra care of yourself and your loved ones while the storm passes through.