What is the Saharan Air Layer?

The Saharan Air Layer is not unusual, it happens almost every year. You may also see it referred to as the Saharan Dust Layer or Saharan Dust Plume. It originates from the Sahara Desert region of North Africa which is a “mass of very dry, dusty air that forms over the Sahara Desert during the late spring, summer, and early fall,” said NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML).

Saharan Air Layer Impacts

The Saharan Air Layer plays a role in weather and the climate, according to NOAA’s AOML “these Saharan dust outbreaks that can affect tropical cyclones, tropical disturbances, and the general climatology of the Atlantic tropical atmosphere.”

The plus about the Saharan Air Layer is that could lead to suppressing tropical development.

It also potentially creates vibrant sunrises and sunsets as the dust scatters the sunlight. Depending on several factors and the reach of the SAL, we might even see some brilliant sunrises and sunsets here in Alabama. So, be selfie-ready for these photo ops.

Rural Texas bluebonnets and sunflowers at sunrise
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The bad news about the Saharan Air Layer is that not so kind to people with allergies or respiratory issues. According to allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “the tiny dust particles contained in the plume will cause eye, nose and throat irritation for anyone who comes in their path, but particularly for allergy and asthma sufferers.”

(Source) Click here for more specifics from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Click here for more information from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

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