Red eyes or scratchy throat?

It could be the Saharan dust that has moved into Central Texas yet again. It's also responsible for the hazy skies that you see overtop of us.

The visible satellite from Monday afternoon shows a brown tint off the coast of Africa and over the Atlantic Ocean. This is dust associated with dust storms occurring in the Sahara Desert.

Forecast models indicate that the amount of dust will decrease around Central Texas after Monday, but that more will likely head our way before summer's end. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's (TCEQ) Air Quality Forecast includes moderate air quality for the Austin area through the work week.

So how does it get here?

This is the time of year where large plumes of dust churn up over the Sahara Desert in Africa and cross the Atlantic Ocean. Below is a NASA satellite image of what this looks like from space.

Credit: nesdis.noaa.gov
Credit: nesdis.noaa.gov

Wind Storms Over Africa

In order for this phenomenon to happen, big wind storms take shape over the desert.

A tight pressure gradient between high and low pressure helps to increase wind speed. In turn, this picks up any loose sand or dirt and throws it several thousand feet above the ground. Once the dust is elevated, then the trade winds take over.

Trade Winds Carry Dust

Trade winds over the Atlantic Ocean in the mid-levels of the atmosphere are consistently blowing from east to west. In other words, a steady conveyor belt of wind drives the dust all the way across the ocean to Texas. With so much dust over the Atlantic, it makes the air so dry that tropical activity typically shuts down. Tropical "cyclones" need a moist, warm and quiet environment at all levels to grow. If one ingredient is not present, like moisture, don't count on any new named storms.

Once the dust travels to the Lone Star State, you can expect the blue sky to turn brown and reducing air quality.

The KVUE Storm Team is the only weather team in the region that takes their own allergy counts on a daily bases. Using an air sampler, that is located on the roof of our North Austin studios, we record a 24-hour sample of air and then analyze that data under a microscope.

We often find pollen and mold, but when the African Dust arrives, we can see little specs of dust on our allergy slide.

One positive, sunrises and sunsets look spectacular.

Expect this pattern to occur several times this summer.

For the latest Air Quality Forecast, Click Here.