Hazy Houston skies caused by Saharan dust

HOUSTON – If you’re wondering why the Houston sky looks a little extra hazy Monday, you can look to the Sahara Desert.

A plume of Saharan dust has blown into Southeast Texas, causing a very milky look to the sky.

These plumes originate in the western Sahara Desert in North Africa. As the air heats up, the fine particulates of the dust rise and get caught up in the upper-level winds of the atmosphere. Since the general direction of the winds in the tropics blow east to west -- called The Easterlies or Trade Winds -- the dust is transported across the Atlantic Ocean and drifts into the Gulf of Mexico.

The plumes are commonly seen across Southeast Texas in the summer. Most of the time the winds are coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, transporting the trapped dust particles with them.

The dust that causes a hazy sky during the day can make for some spectacular sunsets. However, dusty skies can aggravate allergies for some, causing itchy and watery eyes, as well as scratchy noses and throats.

The forecast is for the dust to remain in place for the next two days before eventually drifting into Northern Texas. Skies in Southeast Texas will become clearer by midweek. 

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