There is an unusual visitor in Texas this year, beginning in mid-July. The visitor is a plume of fine dust particles from the Sahara. The arrival of Saharan Desert dust in the Gulf Coast is not a cause for panic, even though it may give the appearance of a hazy and enormous cloud which partially obscures the sun. The plume lends itself to some brilliant sunrises and sunsets during its time over Texas. The journey is approximately five thousand miles from western Africa, across the tropical Atlantic and into the Texas Gulf Coast.

The hazy plume is known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL). Earlier, another plume of the African-based visiting cloud has arrived on the Texas Gulf Coast from the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. The notable features of the cloud of fine particles are its extreme dryness and the size of the cloud. SAL particles have approximately half the moisture of the typical tropic air. The cloud usually is located from five thousand to twenty thousand feet above the earth. The winds that move the cloud westward are found at altitudes from 6500 to 14500 feet.

Another unique characteristic of a SAL is its sheer size. The currently arriving dust storm is approximately the size of all the lower forty-eight states.

Unlike other dust storms, the SAL is not considered harmful to humans and pets. Those people who are especially vulnerable to allergies might be troubled by the conditions. Scientists believe that the dust may actually act as fertilizer for the rainforests in the Amazon Basin.

Some research indicates that the formation of clouds from the Sahara may suppress the formation of cyclones. The atmospheric conditions which normally develop into tropical storms are engulfed and surrounded by SAL. Studies continue, but it may be that the presence of dust particles can affect the formation of precipitation and clouds.

Weather nerds are encouraged to use the presence of the Saharan visitor to capture images of brilliant sunrises and sunsets. The colors tend to be in the orange and red range. Photographers mark the presence of SAL with images of the haze and the sunset colors.

One negative which has been attributed to the arrival of SAL in the Western Hemisphere is noted in the Gulf of Mexico. NASA scientists say that the particulates may lead to the creation of dangerous algae blooms in the Gulf waters. The toxic conditions are due to reduced sunlight reaching the waters.

For homeowners in Texas, the layer of dust which is distributed on surfaces is something which may affect the operation of HVAC League City systems. It is important to change filters in households on a regular basis to keep the system operating at optimum efficiency. In addition to taking care of AC installation, Bellaire Texas professionals perform a range of services to keep the equipment functioning correctly. A regular checkup and cleaning of the system twice yearly is the best way to extend the life of the equipment. The professionals have the knowledge and experience to perform maintenance and repair tasks for installed equipment.

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August 28, 2016 5:40 pm