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Saharan dust bringing negative and positive impacts

Dust particles from the Sahara Desert in Africa (pictured) are currently traveling across the Atlantic Ocean toward Texas. It is expected to impact the Highland Lakes by July 4. iStock image

Plumes of dust should permeate the Central Texas sky later this week as particles from the Sahara Desert in Africa travel across the globe.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality predicts the dust will arrive on Texas’ southern coast by Wednesday, July 3. It is expected to progress deeper into the state and impact Highland Lakes residents as early as Thursday.

Central Texas residents can expect dry air, warm temperatures, low rain chances, vibrant sunrises and sunsets, and potential breathing issues caused by the Saharan dust.

The annual occurrence typically happens during the late spring, summer, and early fall. It is caused when dust particles rise along with hot, dry air from the surface of the Sahara Desert and travel to the highest part of Earth’s atmosphere before being carried by trade winds to the Gulf Coast.

Positive impacts from the dust include the spread of iron- and phosphorous-rich minerals that act as fertilizer for local vegetation. It also throttles the development of tropical storms from Africa to the Caribbean.

The dust’s negative impacts include lowering the overall air quality and causing eye, nose, and throat irritation. Wearing a KN95 mask while outdoors can counteract the worst of these symptoms.

The dust also lowers humidity as it steals moisture from the air.