Seen Hazy Skies Over Texas? It’s Probably Dust from Africa

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Many Texans noticed hazy skies lately along with particularly pretty sunrises and sunsets. These atmospheric changes are due to sand (or dust) that traveled all the way from the Sahara Desert.

That’s right. Sand can move from the west coast of Africa and fly 5000 miles over the Atlantic to reach the United States. This phenomenon is referred to as the Saharan air layer (SAL) which can even be spotted by NASA satellites.

The Weather Channel reports that, “The SAL is typically located between 5,000 and 20,000 feet above the earth’s surface and is transported westward by bursts of strong winds that are located in the central and western Atlantic at altitudes between 6,500 and 14,500 feet.”

If you find yourself feeling annoyed that your car is covered in dust, marvel at how far that dust traveled to find its way to your vehicle! It is rather incredible.

Concerning the size of the SAL, The Weather Channel says, “The outbreak pushing off the African coast on July 12, 2016, was roughly the size of the Lower 48 States.”

The brilliant sunrise and sunset colors are thanks to the light reflecting off of the particles of sand. So despite the sneezes, the dust can have some nice side effects.