Unusually dense dust layer approaching; little health risk but FL skies will be brilliant

Credit: FloridaStorm.org, Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

An unusually dense layer of dust approaching the United States from the east poses little risk to most Floridians, but people with respiratory illnesses are advised to use caution if they venture outdoors this weekend.

The Saharan Air Layer moves dust westerly toward North America every summer, but this one is the thickest detected in 50 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

It poses a health risk in the Caribbean, where it is arriving in a density not seen in decades, but it is expected to significantly dissipate by the time it reaches the southeastern U.S. and be most notable for what it will do for Florida’s already famous sunsets and sunrises, starting Thursday evening.

“When Saharan dust is present in the atmosphere, the colors of the sunset are enhanced to look deeper and darker in color due to the tiny dust particles scattering more of the sunlight across the sky,” according to FloridaStorms.org, produced by the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a tweet urging people with respiratory health problems to stay indoors and seal off outside air until the dust dissipates.