Hot, hazy, and unhealthy! Did you notice the layer of smog over Atlanta today? Well believe it or not, the air we inhaled was full of dust that traveled over 5000 miles from Africa.
Dust and minerals from the Sahara Desert traveled in low level winds known as the Saharan Air Layer or SAL. This low level circulation is not uncommon this time of year and is between 5000 and 25,000 feet up in the atmosphere.
The dust has managed to move into the Gulf of Mexico and surge northward across Texas and across the southeast. We will continue to see the desert haze linger through Friday and then another plume of dust is forecast to return next week.
Here's a look at the GOES-5 satellite image from NASA showing the dust and aerosol particulates moving from the west coast of Africa across the Atlantic into the southeastern United States. This plume of particulates has worsened Atlanta Air Quality making it unhealthy for sensitive groups. A code orange Air Quality Index of 109 was issued today mainly due to the high level of particulates. Those individual with heart and lung disease should limit exposure outdoors.