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Huge Dust Cloud Heads for America

The Saharan dust is expected to hit the Gulf Coast this week
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2020 9:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Gulf Coast residents, get ready for brilliant sunsets—and a few possible health hazards. A massive dust cloud is heading west across the Atlantic and could affect the lives of people from Florida to Texas, AccuWeather reports. "According to scientists ... this is an abnormally large dust cloud," says senior AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski, who adds that the dust "started coming off the coast of Africa several days ago, in fact maybe over a week ago. And it's still coming. It's almost like a prolonged area of dust." Expected to hit the Gulf Coast between Tuesday and Thursday, the Saharan dust should bring hazy and brownish skies during the day.

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But the Washington Post predicts sunsets that "appear markedly more vibrant, with deeper, more expansive brushstrokes of orange and yellow washing across the sky." On the downside, the dust could mix with other particles (like smoke, ozone, or more dust) and negatively affect anyone with sensitive lungs. The dusty air might also curb storm development, preventing tropical storms or hurricanes from forming—but the dust will likely be long gone when hurricane season reaches full force in August and September. For the record, Saharan dust is nothing new in the Gulf Coast this time of year. But by all accounts, this one's a biggy. You can follow its movement at NASA. (Read more dust storm stories.)

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