Saharan Air Layer: Potential for gorgrous sunrise/sunsets

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 10:50 AM CDT
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It might seem odd or far fetched but the Sahara desert actually has a large influence on the east and southeast U.S. coast.

When steady easterlies (winds) come off the African coast, plumes of sand/dust from the Sahara become suspended in the atmosphere. If the winds are steady and strong enough, large quantities can be carried hundreds of miles over the Caribbean and Southeast U.S. The primary result of this happening is limited tropical development, the dry air limits convection (rising motion) needed for initiating tropical systems. We currently have a decent swath of dry Saharan air moving towards the Gulf/Caribbean and that has, for the time being, halted any threats of development in the short term.

So how the heck does this make us have more majestic colors in the sky during sunrise and sunset? The dry particles, in addition to limiting tropical development, cause the sun's rays to be refracted when they hit the atmosphere at a particular angle. i.e sunrise or sundown. Over the next several days you may see more vibrant colors in the sky and now you know why!