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Saharan Dust is not new, why you’re hearing more about it this year

Images of Saharan Dust traveling from June 16 - June 25.
Images of Saharan Dust traveling from June 16 - June 25.(Credits: NASA/NOAA, Colin Seftor)
Published: Jun. 27, 2020 at 2:32 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - You may have seen on social media this past week about a plume of dust coming off the coast of Africa that will impact areas in the Midwest. This is actually not a new phenomenon and happens every year. Most of the time it impacts areas to the south or along the gulf coast.

What is different this year, is that the density of the dust plume is greater than in recent years and the area the dust will impact. This layer of dust brings warm, dry, and stable air.

Saharan dust travels through the atmosphere and the base normally sits around one mile above the surface. According to NOAA, the dust activity ramps up in the middle of June and will peak from late June until the middle of August.

When that dust reaches the United States, it can impact weather, air quality, visibility, creates amazing sunsets/sunrises, and can inhibit hurricane formation.

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