A particularly severe dust storm from the Saharan desert is nearing the southern US, satellite images show.
And the unusually dense dust plumes from Africa might make it difficult for some to breathe — which could be especially worrisome for those already struggling with respiratory issues due to coronavirus complications.
The plumes were generated by fierce winds blowing across the Sahara and raising up clouds of sand particles. This dust storm has already riddled visibility in the Caribbean. In Barbados, for example, the layer of dust is so dense that experts have issued a “severe dust haze warning,” according to CBS News.
Beyond stressing out drivers by limiting visibility, the Sahara dust cloud is causing folks to sweat for a more obvious reason: According to a study published in ScienceAdvances, such sandy displays may contribute to the warming of our atmosphere.
In Miami, residents have already started to see the effects of the dust, which has created an unusual golden dusk, as Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami, pointed out on Twitter.
The dust is expected to hit Gulf Coast states such as Texas and Louisiana on Wednesday and Thursday.
Experts say the dust could aggravate those with existing respiratory issues, such as asthma or, more recently, COVID-19. Some even warn that the dust could generate allergy symptoms similar to the symptoms of the coronavirus.
The storm brings “a mass of hot air, with very little humidity, which in turn contains biological and chemical materials that are potentially harmful to respiratory health,” Ibis Montalvo Félix, the asthma expert for the Puerto Rico Department of Health, told the New York Times. “This phenomenon, an annual recurrence on the island, is considered an environmental trigger for asthma symptoms.”