Saharan dust arrives in South Florida with a thick haze

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The first great plume of dust from the Sahara made a journey of more than 4,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to southern Florida, turning the sky gray and opaque.

The cloud is made up of fine particles and sand from the deserts of Africa. Strong winds lift it into the atmosphere, where it is carried westward.

Air quality has dropped over the weekend with these additional particles in the air.

The air quality index is moderate in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, which is still acceptable for most. Those who are unusually sensitive to air pollution could experience problems, especially those with asthma or COPD.

The chances of rain have also been reduced with the middle part of the atmosphere drying out from the plume of dust. This is necessary after six inches of rain fell in parts of Broward County on Friday.

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There are some positives to a Saharan dust outbreak. While over the tropics, this drier air can weaken tropical systems or, in some cases, prevent them from developing.

The dust is also known to provide beautiful orange sunsets. This is only the case if the powder is not too thick.

While it’s not uncommon to see it this time of year in Florida, it comes in waves. This will last until Tuesday. Expect more appearances throughout the summer.

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