The U.S. South – and into Arkansas and Texas – are experiencing very dusty sunsets and sunrises. They’re due to an unusually large plume of dust from northern Africa’s Saharan Desert, which wafted across the Atlantic beginning just after mid-June. The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang wrote on June 25, 2020:
An unusually thick, nearly 5,000-mile-long plume of dust that was whisked off the Sahara Desert by storm-related winds June 14 is moving ashore along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to the Florida Panhandle. It is predicted to cause a deterioration in air quality and turn the sky a milky white, and its impacts won’t be limited to the coast …
Although plumes of Sahara Desert dust are routinely ejected from Africa’s west coast during June, the ongoing event is extraordinarily rare, scientists said. This event stands out in terms of the dust layer’s thickness, its low altitude and geographic reach, causing a dramatic deterioration in air quality in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Guadeloupe and numerous other locations where records are maintained.
Bottom line: From Florida to Texas, the U.S. South has had very dusty skies in late June 2020. The dust is due to an unusually large dust plume that left northern Africa’s Saharan Desert in mid-June.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.