Saharan dust in central Texas: When will the haze go on its way?


AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week saw particularly high levels of dust blowing in from the Saharan Desert into central Texas — but this particularly thick cloud is expected to hang over the Austin area over the weekend even more.

KXAN’s Weather Team has been keeping track of the plumes of dust — which often blow across the Atlantic Ocean during the summer time.

Michael Lowry, former scientist with University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), said on Twitter: “The ongoing  Saharan #dust outbreak across the tropical Atlantic is by far the most extreme of the MODIS satellite record — our most detailed, continuous record of global dust back to 2002.”

When is it leaving?

According to KXAN Weather’s David Yeomans, dust and haze are expected to peak in the area on Saturday. Sunday skies and air should be slightly clearer as dust exits.

There will be mostly clearer skies by Monday.

KXAN will continue to monitor air quality as the Saharan Dust moves through the area.

Also note: sunrise and sunsets are brighter and enhanced due to the dust.

Dust on Thursday evening above south Austin (Courtesy of Dawn Johnson)

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“This can actually be problematic for some people,” said KXAN’s Chief Meteorologist Jim Spencer. “But most of us don’t have any health concerns from it, and it’s not unusual this time of year for that dust from the Saharan Desert to cross the ocean and blow all the way to Texas.”

Spencer said to pay attention to air quality during times of high concentration and spend less time outside if the quality is poor.

An air quality forecast of “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” on Saturday means that those with respiratory conditions may consider limiting time outdoors.

If you do go out, it’s recommended that you shower and rinse your sinuses.

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