Saharan Dust in Florida?
So a phenomenon I've run into over the past couple years, that I oddly had never heard of before moving to my paradise state of Florida, is Saharan dust in the atmosphere.
Maybe I just never paid it any mind because I wasn't living down here, or maybe similar to news headlines the TV/internet gods didn't deem it something I would care about living in Indiana. Who knows? Regardless it isn't something I've made up, and it is an important thing weather geeks track and monitor. What is it? Why is it important? I'm glad you asked.
What is it? Not to be snarky but it is exactly what it sounds like; dust/sand from the Saharan desert in northern Africa. You know, this stuff...
According to multiple sources I'll cite at the bottom (just so you know I'm not full of it) this loose dust and sand gets whipped up into the atmosphere and is carried to the new world via intercontinental winds. This has a profound effect on quite a few meteorological things such as hurricanes, sunsets, and air quality.
What I'm reading from news sources and other credible websites online, is this Saharan dust cloud is actually a good thing. The "season" for this dust is typically mid-June to mid-August, making when I type this slightly outside of the typical time of year for this phenomenon. This dust actually helps diminish the chances for tropical storms (which also originate off the African coast) to turn into full fledged hurricanes. That's kind of amazing! According to Nature.com the dust basically helps to break down cloud formation and also causes precipitation in existing clouds thus helping to diminish the tropical storms.
Saharan dust is also responsible for some seriously gorgeous sunsets/sunrises. The dust in the atmosphere scatters even more of the light resulting in brilliant reds, pinks, oranges, and purples.
As with most things there is a downside to this dust cloud rolling in. It does lower the quality of air for people with respiratory illness. Increased allergens and general air pollution result, it also can contribute to red tide, which is something I'm going to write about extensively at another time and something we don't need more of.
I hope I've contributed to your "science-ing" today, I know I feel it was worthwhile learning about and understanding more about this gorgeous state I love. Hopefully this also helps to show how connected we are to the world as a whole. Even across an entire ocean we are still affected by global weather patterns and events.