Sahara dust keeping South Florida hot and hazy

John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS
·2 min read

The Sarahan Air Layer of dust hanging over South Florida this week is keeping the region unusually toasty.

But the dust should dissipate by the end of the week.

Meteorologist Chuck Caracozza with the National Weather Service in Miami said the dust is typical for this time of year as the air moves off the African Coast and is carried by westerlies to the Atlantic coast of the U.S. The dust will bring some dry air, milky skies and high temperatures to the region through the end of the week, but Caracozza said the dust likely won’t have a huge effect on Floridians’ health.

“It mainly stays in the mid levels, it doesn’t really mix too, too much down into the lower levels where we are,” he said. “What it does is basically it’ll help reduce the shower coverage over the area, which could allow for warmer temperatures to occur.”

One of the effects of the Sahara dust is storm suppression. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the dryness of the Saharan Air Layer can stifle the humidity that tropical storms and cyclones need to develop. But Caracozza said this is a short-term effect.

“With the Saharan Air Layer, it’s drier air, so it could disrupt some development over that area for a certain time, but it doesn’t just stay still,” he said. “This will be gone by Thursday over the area.”

Jason Dunion, a meteorologist at NOAA, said that the NOAA uses satellites to track the dust layer to understand how it can affect weather patterns in the Gulf and over Florida. He said dust can reach as far west as Texas and Central America during the peak seasons of June to August.

According to the weather forecast, high temperatures for this week in South Florida will climb into the 90s with little rain expected, a contrast to the flood watches issued last week from heavy rainfall.

“It’s going to be warm. So do your best to keep hydrated and keep cool,” Caracozza advised.

Olivia Lloyd can be reached at