The source of the brown clouds of dust on the Texan horizon may surprise you. This isn’t another bout of nearby air pollution — these particles came all the way from the Sahara Desert.
Over the past few weeks, various news outlets have reported a large cloud of dust’s invasion of southern Texas. While at first glance, the dust may just seem like an everyday nuisance — it actually completed a 5,000 mile journey from the Sahara Desert.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division, this massive plume of dust is called the Saharan Air Layer (SAL). The SAL is filled with especially dry and dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during late spring, summer, and early fall.
This dust is typically found at high altitudes — between 5,000 and 20,000 feet — and blown westwards by strong gusts of wind. To explain further, these high-flung atmospheric winds have the capacity to capture enormous quantities of Saharan dust and sweep it all the way to the American coast.
Satellite images from NASA demonstrate how, in the third week of June, this massive dust cloud made its way from Africa all the way to the south of Texas. Having arrived in the U.S., it’s actually now en route to the Midwest!
The Saharan dust cloud arrives with some interesting scientific implications. According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, it actually has a subduing effect on tropical storms.
Tropical cyclones become inundated with the Saharan dust, preventing them from gaining in intensity. And in addition to the dust’s cyclone-taming abilities, Weather.com reports that Saharan air blown into the Amazon Rain Forest acts as a fertilizer for many plants.
Kicking Up Dust
Despite the environmental perks the foreign dust invasion offers, the SAL still has a familiar, detrimental effect on our air quality. In addition to its negative impact on visibility, it’s causing major discomfort for residents who are prone to allergies, asthma, or other respiratory illnesses, as abc13 reports.
And although they may not have the means to repel atmospheric Saharan dust clouds, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. understands the dangers and issues associated with dust better than the rest. As experienced specialists, we offer a variety of solutions to keep your worksite or community dust free.
But Midwest doesn’t stop at selling excellent products — we follow through, working hand in hand with clients to address their evolving needs.
Specifically, our Soil Sement® product helps control the dust on road surfaces, and is far more environmentally friendly than conventional alternatives. And our EnviroKleen® product is the most effective and environmentally safe dust control and soil stabilization solution on the market.
These are only a few of the many items in Midwest’s dust-busting catalogue — one that any U.S. municipality should look into. Because in the end, it’s best to be prepared, since you never quite know where the next dust-filled invasion will come from.
(Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/flickr)