The Saharan Dust is Here & Will Linger For a Bit

The Saharan Dust is Here & Will Linger For a Bit 1
The Saharan dust is heavy over Great Cruz Bay this morning.

For those of you here on island and those of you who check out our webcams from the states, you may notice a bit of a haze in the sky today and over the next couple of days. Well that’s not haze you’re looking at, it’s actually Saharan Dust.

It typically happens every spring and summer, but it decided to make its debut a bit early this year (and last year too). 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 Eleanor Gibney gave us back in 2015:

“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.”

The first satellite image shows the amount of dust that’s currently near the Territory. The second shows that there will be less around the islands by Saturday night. However there is there is a decent amount to our east, so that may come through the territory within the next week.

The Saharan Dust is Here & Will Linger For a Bit 2
The dust layer as of 5 a.m. EST this morning.
The Saharan Dust is Here & Will Linger For a Bit 3
The dust layer forecast for Saturday night.

For those of you who would like to track the Saharan dust layer, you can do so here.

When the dust arrives, I usually get questions asking how long it arrives. That’s hard to answer other than to say that it comes and goes. Your best bet it to check the forecast using this link. One great thing about the dust is that it makes for great sunsets. So be sure to check out those webcams around 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. as sunset is currently at 6:21 p.m. AST (which is one hour ahead of EST).

That’s all we have for you today, folks! News you can use!

Tag: Saharan Dust Virgin Islands

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