Sahara Dust Storms from Across the Atlantic

Below is a space image of a Sahara Dust Storm coming off the west coast of Africa. Spain is in the upper right corner with the Straits of Gibraltra on the right edge about one-fourth down. The zigzag line is the border between Mauritania on the left and Western Sahara (Morocco).

The following articles describe the above dust storm. It is important to realize that these dust storms, like the ones in China, have their origin in the droughts, for if there was rain there would be less dust. The role of droughts and dust gained a historical accolade in America during the 1930's--the Dustbowl. As the second article relates, there is a health hazard because the dust blocks the utraviolet rays that would destroy dustborne illnesses, e.g., Hanta Virus. Also, note how these duststorms maintain an integrity like "volcanic ash, smoke from forest fires" which is very similar to the dynamics of the MidEast oil fields as describe in the webpage on the Kuwaiti oil field fires of the 1991 Gulf War.

"Dusty veil stretches from Sahara Desert into Texas" (Newsweek, June 27, 2001)

A huge dust cloud that originated in the Sahara Desert has spread into Texas, impairing visibility and reducing air quality, forecasters said. The dusty veil stretched from Cuba and the eastern coast of Mexico to South Texas on Tuesday and was expected to reach into North Texas by Thursday.

“We used to get a haze off the Gulf, and people would call it the Gulf Haze.

Nobody was sure where it was coming from,” said Ron Wells, a Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission meteorologist. “Now we know what one of the causes is.”

Air currents can carry volcanic ash, smoke from forest fires and other matter long distances, including from as far away as the Sahara Desert, off Africa’s west coast, said Skip Ely, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The clouds can travel halfway around the world, usually at an altitude of about 10,000 to 12,000 feet.

Individually, we have all experienced the freshly washed car that was the victim of a brief shower that cleaned the air but not the car. The brief precipitation collected the air-borne dust with the first few drops of rain--electrostatic attraction, the basis of electrostatic air cleaners--but there was not enough follow-up rain to wash the dust off the car. Did you ever hear Grandma say that it would be nice to have a little afternoon shower to settle the dust?

African dust storms send germs to America, CNN, June 18, 2001
Besides painting American sunsets red when they cross over the Atlantic, colossal Saharan dust storms bring loads of potentially dangerous microorganisms to the New World, according to scientists.

Loads of bacteria and fungi, some of which could cause disease and respiratory problems, hitch rides on dust storm plumes from Northern Africa that blow westward for thousands of miles, according to researchers.

"Additionally, when dust clouds move over open water in lower latitudes, the moderate temperatures and high humidity are known to enhance microbial survival."

Florida receives more than half of all microbe-laden Africa dust in the United States. During major episodes, there could be a correlation with increased health risks in the state, the scientists cautioned.

Besides microbe and fungi passengers, the dust grains themselves are known to cause respiratory and allergic reactions. One study in the Caribbean revealed a 17-fold increase in asthma attacks during an increased period of dust transport.

What does this also mean? The carbon dioxide plumes from the Nigerian oil fields (one-fourth of the total global flared gas) travels across the ocean, absorbing water for torrential downpours in ocean or the new world, e.g., Central America, Houston, Miami, and Carolinas.

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