For those of you here on island and those of you who’ve been checking out our webcams from the States, you may have noticed that our skies have been a bit grey and almost hazy looking the past several days. Well that’s not haze you’re looking at, it’s actually Saharan Dust and it looks like we have a bit more to come in our future.
It happens every spring and summer. Last year, we noticed the dust the last week of April so it appears to have showed up right on time. What happens is that 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 that Eleanore Gibney gave us last year:
“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:
Here are a couple of pics we took yesterday:
One of the good things about the dust … it can make for some pretty great sunsets. So it’s not all that bad. Want to know more about the dust? Click here to see the latest satellite images showing the Saharan Dust Layer.