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Here Comes the Sahara Desert

FLORIDA – The Sarah Desert is headed to Florida over the next week.

In an event that meteorologists say is nothing new, westerly winds carry over 180 tons of dust across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Gulf of Mexico each year.

Experts say most of the dust remains aloft between 5,000 and 15,000 feet and has both positive and negative effects on Florida.

Positives:

• Can weaken tropical systems and lower activity because the dry Saharan air layer contains 50% lower humidity.

• Creates vibrant sunrises and sunsets with an extra glow.

• Iron in the dust helps fertilize the Amazon. It also feeds phytoplankton in the ocean, which takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.

Negatives:

• Lowers air quality and can aggravate those with respiratory issues or asthma.

• Causes hazy skies and dirty rain. There will be fewer storms, but they can be stronger.

• There will be higher temperatures.

• The dust can transport bacteria, which can lead to algal blooms like red tide. Also has been known to negatively impact coral reefs.

 

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