The dust plume could potentially reach Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Texas and the Carolinas this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
The dust plume, traveling at altitudes between 20,000 and 30,000 feet in the Southeast, will bring enhanced sunrises and potentially suppress storm formation, which will make for a beautiful view with the dust, National Weather Service meteorologist David Wally told The New York Times.
“Due to more sunlight being scattered by the dust particles, there will likely be more vibrant sunsets and sunrises of the orange and red side of the visible light spectrum,” Wally said.
Satellite images from earlier this week showed the thick dust as a brown mass moving off the west coast of Africa, crawling across the Atlantic and then drifting over the eastern Caribbean.
Because it is a dry layer of air, the dust helps suppress the development of tropical systems, according to the National Weather Service.
“The dry nature of the air mass that originates from the Sahara limits thunderstorm and cloud development, which are needed for the development of tropical cyclones,” Wally said.
The arrival of the Saharan dust cloud is not unusual and happens a few times year, said Wally, who added the plumes are usually short-lived, lasting no more than a week.
The episodes often take place from late spring to early fall, “when you have easterly trade winds that dominate across the tropics, and sometimes those can extend deep into the atmosphere,” he said.
The lighter amount of dust was slated to move into the Gulf Coast on Thursday, with the denser concentration of dust coming to fruition this weekend.