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Saharan dust cloud arrives in South Florida along with stunning sunsets

Dust will likely stick around until Tuesday

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A massive cloud of dust has traveled 5,000 miles from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean and we’re seeing the fringes of it over South Florida.

The internet has had a good time giving it a nickname, the “Godzilla dust cloud.”

The sky dust reached South Florida late last week and will most likely increase on Sunday. Local 10′s Weather Authority expects the dust to stick around until about Tuesday.

In South Florida, the most obvious impact is on the color of the sky. The typical rich blue hue is replaced with a hazy, milky appearance, not unlike what you may expect from smoke during a wildfire.

But it also creates radiant and spectacular sunrises and sunsets as the dust scatters the sunlight, leaving vibrant shades of red and purple as the dominant colors. This weekend should offer some prime viewing.

So what causes the phenomenon? A perfect alignment of winds at the perfect time as strong winds kick up dust in Africa.

The huge Saharan dust cloud formed June 13, when strong atmospheric updrafts over the Sahara were picked up by easterly winds, which blew the dust cloud west over the Atlantic, according to NASA.

The dust cloud is hazardous to some people’s health as it brings a risk of poor air quality as some of the dust settles to the ground and into our lungs. Those with breathing issues such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and allergies should stay indoors as much as possible.

About the Authors:

Luke Dorris joined the Local 10 Weather Authority just in time for Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.