This Year’s SAL is Something Else

If you’ve ever been to or live in the southern US, you’ve been walking on the Sahara Desert by association. Each year, a layer of Sahara dust is picked up by trade winds and transported across the Atlantic, where it settles in places like the Caribbean and the southern US. In fact, much of the soil in places like Florida and the surrounding islands is comprised of millions of years of such dust plumes.

And this year’s event is so dense that it can be seen by the naked eye from the International Space Station. Breathtaking before and after images from the ground have been shared on social media showing how severely thick the dust is over Puerto Rico as the plume is expected to hit the southeastern US later this week.

Officially called the Saharan Air Layer, the SAL is known as a ‘hurricane killer,’ sucking up moister from the air. However, it can also cause problems for people with respiratory issues and some places have issued travel advisories due to severely reduced visibility.

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