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‘Godzilla dust cloud’ from Sahara heads for US bringing ‘worst air pollution in 50 years’ after swamping the Caribbean

AN ENORMOUS plume of Saharan dust, nicknamed ‘Godzilla’, is heading for the U.S. bringing the “worst air pollution in 50 years”.

The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) first appeared on satellite images captured over Africa in June according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

AP:Associated Press

The cloud of dust blanketed the Caribbean on June 22 as it heads towards the U.S.[/caption]

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The dust cloud dominated the skyline in San Juan, Puerto Rico[/caption]

The colossal cloud, usually found between 5,000 and 20,000 feet above ground level, is formed by powerful winds lifting sand and mineral particles off the surface of the Sahara and into the air.

It’s assumed that strong updrafts sent sandy surface winds blowing the cloud across the desert higher into the atmosphere.

The cloud typically forms between late spring and early autumn every year and travels across the Atlantic ocean.

The latest SAL has now travelled 3,000 miles, covering the Caribbean in plumes of dust.

The cloud of the Sahara desert has reduced air quality to record “hazardous” levels and has been nicknamed the “Godzilla dust cloud”.

Experts believe that the event is the most significant in the past 50 years.

“This is the most significant event in the past 50 years,” said Pablo Méndez Lázaro, an environmental health specialist with the University of Puerto Rico. 

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Puerto Rico looked gloomy as Godzilla swarmed the Caribbean[/caption]

NOAA

The Saharan Air Layer inched closer to the U.S. as it entered the Caribbean sea on June 21[/caption]

“Conditions are dangerous in many Caribbean islands.”

The Barbados Meteorological Services advised those with respiratory issues or dust allergies to travel with prescribed medications.

Evan Thompson, director of Jamaica’s Meteorological Service expected, the dense plume to “peak” on June 23, report the Jamaican Observer.

José Alamo, a meteorologist with the U.S National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said June 23 would the be worst day for the U.S. territory as the plume travels towards the southeast U.S. coast

The main international airport in San Juan reported just five miles (eight kilometres) of visibility and flags fluttered in the gloomy-looking Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

DANGEROUS CONDITIONS

Due to the dry air and high pressure, the dust cloud has paused hurricane activity.

Rick Davis, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Ruskin office told the Tampa Bay Times: “The slow moving dust is robbing the air of all its moisture. Tropical storms and hurricanes rely on the air that is both warm and most in order to form.”

There is little rain, no tropical storms and stunning sunsets.

Mr Davis said: “One unique aspect of the dust will be our sunsets being incredibly vivid.


“Saharan dust is orange and red, so as the sun sets through the haze you’ll get bright, brilliant sunsets.”

The dust is forecast to reach Tampa Bay on Wednesday, bringing warmer than normal temperatures. Temperatures are expected to reach highs of 33C.

The cloud is predicted to move across Florida, Texas, Mexico in the coming days before dissipating in the Pacific ocean.

@ecmwf

Saharan Air Layers was captured by satellite above Africa in June[/caption]

NOAA

The bright pink colours highlight the large dust cloud extending from the Sahara Desert into the Atlantic[/caption]

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The air quality of the Lesser Antilles, pictured, was reported as “unhealthy” on June 21[/caption]

AFP or licensors

Aircraft experienced low visibility at San Juan airport[/caption]

EPA

Low visibility in Santo Domingo as Sahara dust cloud approaches[/caption]

AFP or licensors

Beaches quieter than normal in the gloomy-looking Puerto Rico[/caption]

AFP or licensors

The dense plume is expected to be peak on June 23 (Tuesday)[/caption]

 

 

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