Saharan Dust Makes Its 2015 Debut

cruz bay overlook dust

Nope, that’s not haze you’ve been seeing in the sky over the past 24 hours or so. It’s dust, and it looks like it’s here to stay for a bit.

It happens every spring and summer. Dust from the Saharan Desert travels west and clouds up the skies over the Virgin islands. It occurs when an increase of warm air causes sand particles to rise above the desert. Those particles are then transported over the Atlantic Ocean and across to the Caribbean. When the dust arrives in the territory, the islands’ typical bright blue skies are replaced by a haze. Visibility is reduced, and the air quality becomes poor.

Here’s a better explanation courtesy of Eleanore Gibney:

“What we are seeing is the effects of desertification as the Sahara has been spreading south. The fine particles of soil from formerly fertile lands are easily blown off, unlike heavier sand particles. The process accelerated in the past 40 years, prior to that visible dust was never noted in the VI.”

This satellite image shows the amount of dust that’s currently near the Territory:

dust layer april 28 2015

Here are a few pics we took late Tuesday afternoon:

dust north shore road
North Shore Road
caneel dust
Caneel Bay Overlook
hawksnest dust
trunk dust
Trunk Bay
trunk overlook dust
Trunk Bay Overlook
cruz bay dust
Cruz Bay beach
cruz bay dust 2
Cruz Bay

Click here to see the latest satellite images showing the Saharan Dust Layer.

5 thoughts on “Saharan Dust Makes Its 2015 Debut”

  1. Fascinating! We were sitting at Hawksnest yesterda looking toward the islands and saying, “Man, it’s foggy over there!”

  2. We have been very fortunate for the past 5 years, we have come the middle of May each time and have never seen this. How long does it usually last? We are coming again Memorial Day weekend. Thanks!!

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