On June 23, 2020, the GOES-East satellite viewed the Saharan Air Layer (or SAL) over Cuba, while a storm erupted through its dusty haze. During this time of year, the SAL often blows westward from Africa’s Saharan Desert and can travel thousands of miles away. The SAL’s activity usually results in reduced severity--- or in some cases entirely inhibits the formation of---Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.
'The Godzilla dust cloud' which left the Shara earlier in the month has arrived over the U.S. Southeast, raising health concerns. Forecasters are expecting a thick brown haze raising more health concerns in states where the coronavirus crisis is worsening.
The 3,500-mile-long, (5,600 km) cloud, dubbed the “Godzilla dust cloud,” travelled 5,000 miles (8,047 km) from North Africa before reaching the region stretching from Florida west into Texas and north into North Carolina through Arkansas, the National Weather Service (NWS) said. “It’s a really dry layer of air that contains very fine dust particulates. It occurs every summer,” said NWS meteorologist Patrick Blood. “Some of these plumes contain more particles, and right now we expecting a very large plume of dust in the Gulf Coast.” This year, the dust is the densest it has been in a half a century, several meteorologists told Reuters earlier this week as it crossed over the Caribbean.
The Saharan dust plume will hang over the region until the middle of next week, deteriorating the air quality in Texas, Florida and other states where the number of COVID-19 cases has recently spiked. “There’s emerging evidence of potential interactions between air pollution and the risk of COVID, so at this stage, we are concerned,” said Gregory Wellenius, a professor of environmental health at Boston University’s School of Public Health. Air pollution can be especially detrimental for people who are at risk for or suffer from cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, Wellenius added. Heart and lung problems heighten the risk of severe COVID-19.
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