Sahara Desert sandstorm reaches Houston — seriously: And it should mean fewer hurricanes
Houstonians may notice a faint yellow haze across the sky thanks to sand storms in the Sahara Desert roughly 5,000 miles to the east.
With particles drifting thousands of feet in the air, the visual impact is expected to remain minor at best. Those with respiratory issues, however, should take caution.
But while the blast of hot and sandy air might seem to fuel Atlantic storms in the midst of hurricane season, NASA researchers discovered in 2006 that the phenomenon ultimately has a cooling effect on the ocean. Those lower surface temperatures on the water generally mean fewer hurricanes.
Known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), the commonly occurring mass of north African sand typically stays closer to the Equator, with only minimal direct effects on the United States.
Check out this cool animation from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detailing how the SAL began it trans-Atlantic voyage last week: