Wondering why the sky is so hazy at the moment? This is a yearly phenomenon known as Sahara Dust.

What is Sahara Dust?

This is actual sand and dust from the African Desert that gets stirred up by strong winds, raised up with hot air, forms a dust plume that is carried over the Atlantic by the tradewinds. If you closely inspect your car or screens and windowsills you will see the fine particles of red dust. It is most likely to occur in June, July and August.

Sahara Dust from Great Cruz Bay, St. John

How long will the Sahara Dust last?

Usually it lasts a few a days, maybe a week and the next good rainfall will literally clear the air. We have not had any real rain since February (0.8″ total) but there are some good downpours in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.

In line with how 2020 has been going, the current dust is among the worst in 50 years so it might take longer to clear than usual. Visibility is only about 2 miles at the moment which is very low for here.

You can check NASA images of the dust here:


Is Sahara Dust bad?

There are pros and cons with Sahara Dust

The good

  • It inhibits the formation of tropical storms
  • The sand acts as fertilizer
  • It makes nice sunsets

The bad

  • It has been linked to pathogens causing coral desease
  • It has been linked to red tide (algae blooms)
  • People might have trouble breathing, stuffy, runny nose or itchy eyes and some get headaches. If you are sensitive to Sahara Dust or have Asthma, stay inside with windows close. A hot wet towel over face might also help. Do not exercise outdoors it can make breathing worse. Wear a mask.
  • Your house, car and screens will be very dirty. Keep windows closed.