Good luck breathing easy after this.
A particularly severe dust storm from the Sahara Desert is nearing the southern US, satellite images show.
And the unusually dense dust plumes from Africa may make it difficult for some to breathe – which can be especially worrisome for those who already struggle with respiratory issues due to the coronavirus.
The plumes were generated by fierce winds blowing across the Sahara desert and raising clouds of sand particles. This dust storm has already riddled visibility in the Caribbean. In Barbados, for example, the layer of dust is so dense that experts have issued a “Severe Dust Haze Warning,” according to CBS News.
Beyond stressing out drivers by limiting visibility, the Sahara dust cloud is causing folks to sweat for a more obvious reason: According to a study published in ScienceAdvances, such sandy displays may contribute to the warming of our atmosphere.
In Miami, Florida, residents have already begun to see the effects of the dust, which has created an unusual golden dusk, as Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami pointed out on Twitter.
However, astronaut Doug Hurley saw a very different image. He photographed the Sahara Desert dust cloud from inside the International Space Station.
The dust is expected to hit the Gulf coast states like Texas and Louisiana on Wednesday and Thursday.
Experts say the dust could aggravate those with existing respiratory issues, such as asthma, or, more recently, COVID-19. Some even warn that the dust could produce allergy symptoms similar to the coronavirus symptoms.
The storm brings “a mass of hot air, with very little humidity, which in turn contains biological and chemical materials that are potentially harmful to respiratory health,” said Ibis Montalvo Felix, manager for the Puerto Rico Department of Health’s asthma program, told the New York Times. “This phenomenon, an annual recurrence on the island, is considered an environmental trigger for asthma symptoms.”