Get ready for the possibility of some spectacular sunsets! And it's all thanks to a desert that is thousands of miles away.
Every year, the dust plume from the Sahara Desert, known as the Saharan Air Layer or SAL, travels 3,000 to 4,000 miles from Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean, and falls into the Caribbean. But, like everything else seems to be in 2020, the dust plume is unique this year.
According to research from the University of Puerto Rico, this will be the highest concentration of particles observed in the past 50 to 60 years. So what does that mean for us in North Carolina?
Well, this plume should move past the Caribbean this year, and into the Southeast United States. That means we could see some dramatic red skies late this week and into next week. The particles scatter the sun's rays, and voila, Instagram is instantly full of #sunrises & #sunsets.
If we get some clear air in the area, it still may appear hazy during the midday. If it rains and those showers tap into the dust layer, they can, sometimes, leave behind a dusty film. Air quality also may be affected in an area based on the amount of dust working its way to the surface.
The SAL floats anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 feet above the ground. It moves west on tropical waves and strong winds over the southern Atlantic Ocean.
This dust may also is beneficial to keeping away tropical storms. According toNOAA, the air with SAL is very dry. It can also create a temperature inversion. Colder air at the surface gets trapped below warmer air, higher in the atmosphere. Those factors can inhibit a tropical storm's ability to strengthen. Some research also suggests it may reduce the number of storms forming or the intensity of the storms that do form. More investigation is underway.
In the meantime, get those phones ready for some colorful skies over the next week. And if it helps keep tropical storms at bay, even better!
Here's more from our weather partner WTVD ABC11: