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It's a bird! It's a plane! Nope, that's just a Saharan dust cloud headed over the Atlantic Ocean straight toward the southeastern United States and yes, you guessed it, Louisiana. When you think about it, it's pretty freaking wild that dust, from AFRICA, a continent on the other side of the world, can travel from the Saharan Desert HERE. What's even crazier is thinking about what's in that dust... Camel poop? Pyramids? Mummies?

Why do we see Saharan Dust Clouds in the United States?

Usually, during the summer months, plumes of dust will get shoved up into the troposphere and then travel on easterly winds aka the jet stream from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes those dust plumes can reach heights up to a mile high! New dust outbreaks can happen as often as every 3 - 5 days. 

Is there anything we should be worried about with regard to the Saharan Dust Cloud?

Experts say that people with asthma and/or respiratory issues should stay inside to avoid additional irritants. So, in addition to ‘air you can wear,’ we get dust, too… BTW, taking additional allergy medicine won't help because the dust is an irritant, not an allergen. Experts say to try to exercise indoors if possible or try a sinus rinse if needed.

How often do Saharan Dust Clouds travel to the United States?

Actually, it happens way more often than we realize. In fact, they say 2-3 Saharan dust clouds made their way to the USA in 2021. They most often occur from late June to mid-August. The current cloud was spotted by NOAA's GOES-EAST weather satellite over the eastern Caribbean Sea and the Lesser Antilles yesterday, which means it should reach the southern United States over the next couple of days.

Are there any benefits to the Saharan Dust Clouds?

I don't know about you, but I'd never heard of Saharan dust clouds before a couple of years ago. However, after the pandemic, nothing is surprising anymore. I will say it creates some incredible sunsets! Plus, they say that the dust clouds are mineral rich and help feed ocean life AND they help to hamper the formation of storms, like hurricanes, so they're not all bad.

On Ancient Aliens, they say the pyramids were built by aliens, so maybe they’re trying to cross-pollinate and meet up with their brethren in some hidden missile silo in the back of the East Res at Barksdale? Then they’ll mysteriously re-form out of all those pieces of pyramid, mummified pharaoh, and camel poop and regenerate into little green men! You never know… It’s no less weird than having dust blow halfway across the world to come for a visit. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. It’s time for a nap…

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