Saharan dust blows into Texas, causing hazy conditions and lower air quality

The CW39 Houston

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A plume of Saharan dust has moved into Central Texas. This made the long 5,000 mile journey all the way from the Saharan desert in Africa.

THE GOOD

1) There are many positives of Saharan dust, including helping to inhibit hurricane activity in the Atlantic ocean. Dust is associated with dry air and hurricanes need moist air to develop and thrive.

2) The Amazon rainforest is usually stripped of phosphorous and nutrients after heavy rain and flooding. But Saharan dust refuels the rainforest’s vegetation and soil.

3) Saharan dust can also fertilize Plankton and cause blooms across the Atlantic ocean and into the Gulf of Mexico. This in return provides food for ocean creatures.

THE BAD

How are we affected locally?

High concentrations of the dust here locally, which is common for this time of the year, lowers our air quality as dust particles get suspended into the air that we breathe. You can see much of Texas is under a “Moderate” index.

A moderate index means that a small number of unusually sensitive people may have a few health concerns. The elderly and the very young — as well as people with asthma and other respiratory issues — are at highest risk. It’s important for these people to limit their time outdoors.

It is important to note that Saharan dust is an irritant and not an allergy, so allergy medication will not work to prevent discomfort. It doesn’t cause sneezing or runny noses but can cause itchy eyes and a sore throat. Best prevention to avoid any discomfort is to limit your time outdoors or wear a facemask.

LOOKING AHEAD

Highest concentration of dust looks to move in by Monday evening and stick around through the day on Tuesday.

Air quality and visibility should improve Wednesday night into Thursday as much of the Saharan dust moves and mixes out.

Click HERE for a live look at our weather cameras across central Texas as we track the dust and increasing hazy weather.

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