If you woke up this morning in Texas, Florida, or other southeastern states, and noticed a hazy or vivid sunrise there’s no need to wipe your eyes. What you noticed was the effects of a giant dust cloud sweeping across the southern U.S. in what many experts have dubbed, “The Godzilla Dust Cloud”. NPR reports, “The technical name for the phenomenon is the Saharan Air Layer according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Regardless of the name, we’ve never seen a dust cloud of this magnitude since data was recorded using a MODIS satellite back in 2002. Atmospheric scientist, Michael Lowery of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, shared data captured from the MODIS satellite which puts this dust cloud into perspective.
This dust storm has length of around 3,500 miles Forbes.com reports. Moving across the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara Desert, this cloud has travelled over 5,000 miles to reach the United States. If you’re living in the southeastern U.S. and have been wearing your mask during the Covid-19 pandemic, this would be a great weekend to continue to keep that practice going. The dust will certainly affect air quality which could amplify affects from the Coronavirus as well as impact those with allergies. While this certainly seems like another challenge to add to the 2020 list, there are a couple positive impacts this dust storm provides. The dry air that comes with the dust plays an important role in hampering the development of hurricanes. NASA’s Earth Observatory also states, “The dust also plays an important ecological role such as fertilizing soils in the Amazon and building beaches in the Caribbean.”