June 15, 2021

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Saharan Dust Plume Shrouds Caribbean (PHOTOS)

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Saharan dust shrouds Culebra, Puerto Rico, on June 22, 2020. (David Perez/Vía185Radio)

A huge plume of dust has traveled from the Saharan Desert and is now shrouding the Caribbean in a thick haze. The plume, the largest in decades to reach the Caribbean Sea, is expected to travel into the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the U.S. later in the week.

Known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), the current plume traveled 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, and is expected to travel another 2,000 miles. SAL commonly forms from late spring through early fall and moves into the tropical Atlantic Ocean every three to five days, according to NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD). Saharan dust takes a 5,000-mile-long journey as far west as the Caribbean Sea, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico each year. However, it is usually not as thick as the current conditions over the Caribbean.

(MORE: Massive Saharan Dust Plume Now in Caribbean Sea)

Photos above show hazy conditions in Puerto Rico and Barbados. The dust is expected to continue moving westward through the Caribbean Sea to parts of the Gulf Coast, reaching the Deep South beginning on Wednesday, CNN reported.

According to NBC2 News, the dust could affect air quality and negatively impact those with allergies or respiratory illnesses. Public Health Officer for Collier County Department of Health in Florida, Kristine Hollingsworth, said in an interview that these individuals are advised to limit outdoor activities during the event.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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