Desert dust storm crossing ocean to squash hurricanes, bring colorful sunsets

It could also bring respiratory challenges, officials say
Updated: Jun. 22, 2020 at 11:09 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Saharan air layer will be here by midweek.

Sure, it happens each year, but this year… is 2020.

“This year’s a little more potent, but I think there’s a little more attention on it too, with just all the craziness that 2020 has already unfolded and allowed,” said WLBT First Alert Meteorologist Rachel Coulter.

So, how much dust are we talking about? 182 million tons, says Coulter. If that sounds like a lot of sand....listen to how NASA sums it up.

“If you were to compare it to semi trucks, and this is the comparison that they give, that’s roughly 689,000 semi trucks filled with dust,” Coulter said.

Because of the dryness it brings to the air, it puts a virtual halt to hurricane season, scientists say. It’s also going to make for some vibrant orange and red sunrises and sunsets.

But there’s downside to that much dirt in the air according to Rankin Emergency Operations Center Deputy Director Brian Grantham.

“If you already have allergies, asthma, the people suffering from the CoViD-19 right now, it could make these respiratory illnesses worse,” Grantham said. “So we recommend that people stay inside as much as possible with some sort of filtration system like your air condition.”

Grantham says if you do have to go out, wearing a mask will help protect your lungs from the desert dust.

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