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Saharan dust plume to impact conditions in Kansas City over weekend

Sahara dust plume
Posted at 10:36 AM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 11:36:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A large plume of dust originating from the Sahara Desert in Africa is traveling through the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere and approaching parts of the United States.

This isn't unusual — in fact, it happens frequently during the summer months. However, this year's event seems to be enhanced with more dust in the atmosphere and strong winds that will keep the dust together, reaching the southeastern United States by Wednesday.

Dust from the Sahara Desert gets lofted into the sky and travels with the trade winds, close to the equator, east to west across the Atlantic Ocean. This is also the same location and path that tropical systems take. As of Tuesday, the dust is located over the Caribbean islands and parts of south Florida with images of a hazy sky and poor visibility.

The plume of dust should hold together and travel north Friday, Saturday and Sunday, impacting conditions in Kansas City. We will see bright reds and oranges in our sunrises and sunsets, but also a more milky or hazy sky during the afternoons. The air quality will be low, affecting sensitive groups with respiratory conditions. The air quality and sky conditions should improve by Sunday in Kansas City as the dust dilutes in the atmosphere.

The good news that comes with the Saharan Dust Layer is the limiting effects of tropical storm development in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico due to the stronger winds aloft and dry air in place.