Saharan dust arrives this weekend, here’s what we can expect

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The much talked about Saharan dust layer or, Saharan Air Layer (SAL) as it is more officially known, is set to arrive in our area this weekend. The main effect our area can see would be a hazy look to the sky and deeper colors at sunset time according to the StormTracker13 meteorologists.

Forecast of where the Saharan dust will travel Friday-Sunday

As for what the SAL is, it’s a well known phenomenon:

“The Saharan Air Layer is a mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during the late spring, summer, and early fall, and moves over the tropical North Atlantic every three to five days.  Saharan Air Layer outbreaks usually occupy a 2 to 2.5-mile-thick layer of the atmosphere with the base starting about 1 mile above the surface. ”

NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

This particular SAL has received extensive news coverage, likely because it contains more dust than many previous years and has provided some stunning visuals from satellite imagery as it makes it’s way from the east to the west across the Atlantic.

This satellite photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, shows a could of dust coming from the Sahara desert arriving to the Caribbean Monday, June 22, 2020. The massive cloud of dust is blanketing the Caribbean as it heads to the U.S. with a size and concentration level that meteorologists say hasn’t been seen in roughly half a century. (NOAA via AP)

Anecdotal conversations and comments on social media with StormTracker13 have shown there are some misconceptions about what this dust layer will or will not do.

Facts about the Saharan Air Layer

Here are some points of information to attempt to clear some of that up and alleviate any concerns:

  • This does happen every year
  • The dust does travel west from Africa across the Atlantic
  • The concentration of dust with this event is larger than most other years in recent record
  • It does not pose an immediate threat to people in our region
  • It likely will manifest as a hazy or hazier-than-normal sky on the weekend
  • If we see the sun set (clouds could obscure) we could have hues of red that are more vibrant than normal
  • The dust is usually tracked at about 5,000 to 15,000 feet above ground level
  • The amount of dust does diminish with time

Stay with WOWKTV.COM for more updates on the Saharan Air Layer and the resulting dust as it moves across a large part of America this weekend.

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