Big Hazy Clouds: Saharan Dust on the Way to Central Texas
It’s that time of the year again! You may feel a little gritty in the next few days, as Saharan dust is coming back to join our record heat this month in Central Texas.
The good news? Expect some gorgeous sunsets. The bad news? You can also expect an itchy throat, watering eyes, and possibly some breathing problems if you have asthma or lung issues.
Where is Saharan Dust Coming From?
This isn't our first tangle with African dust. The clouds travel to Texas across the Atlantic Ocean a couple of times every year. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality expects air quality in Central Texas to be of moderate concern, according to TCEQ standards.
Saharan dust starts over the Sahara Desert of Africa as a large area of dry, gritty air, traveling 5,000-miles from the desert and across the Atlantic Ocean to Belton, Temple, Killeen, and the rest of the state.
What to do About Saharan Dust
Taking allergy meds won't help, because Saharan dust is an irritant and not an allergen. The dust doesn’t cause sneezing or a runny nose, but it can make your eyes itch and your throat sore. According to KXAN, the best way to reduce symptoms is to limit outdoor time or wear a facemask.
Making things worse, the African dust may also include patchy smoke from agricultural fires in Mexico and Central America. This means people with any respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema will need to use extra caution outside. You can check the air quality anywhere in Texas here.
Fortunately, the dust won't last all summer. In the meantime, enjoy the sunsets!