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Saharan dust brings hazy Brazos Valley skies this week

Slight decrease in air quality could impact those with sensitive reparatory issues and allergies
Published: Jul. 11, 2021 at 9:13 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - All of the rain over the past few weeks has made it tough to catch a view of what are typically deep, blue summer skies stretched over the Brazos Valley. Any views between the clouds this week will be replaced by a gray, milky, hazy look as plumes (yes, plural) of Saharan dust move from the Gulf of Mexico and tropical Atlantic through Texas.

Dust all the way from the Saharan Desert!

Impressive, yes, but nothing new. Saharan dust typically makes the 5,000+ mile journey across the Atlantic and into parts of the United States during the early summer months. If anything, this year’s plumes may be slightly delayed from when we typically find a summer haze in the Brazos Valley. Those dust particles are moving through the atmosphere around 10,000 to 15,000 feet above the ground. As it passes by, bright blue skies are filtered to look gray and dull.

What to expect and when

Hazy views were already spotted across the Brazos Valley and South / Southeast Texas Saturday and Sunday. The current plume running through is expected to be at the highest concentration Monday and Tuesday. Monday’s haze may not be noticeable at all (more on this below). Tuesday is expected to bring the thickest haze overhead -- specifically the morning to early afternoon hours. By Wednesday, this first plume of dust will travel around the west side of high pressure, lifting to the north and east. Blue skies with only a minor haze are expected to be back in place Thursday.

Expect hazy, gray skies over the Brazos Valley through mid-week
Expect hazy, gray skies over the Brazos Valley through mid-week(KBTX)

The next plume of dust moving through the tropical Atlantic is slated to reach the western Gulf of Mexico late Thursday or Friday morning. While not as thick as the early week plume, hazy conditions are slated to return this weekend.

Rain is in the forecast Monday. Will it rain mud?

Short of the long: no! Widespread, rain is in the forecast for the first half of Monday. This should help cleanse the atmosphere and improve air quality for most of the day. While mud will not rain down on the Brazos Valley, there may be speckled dust and dirt on cars parked outdoors after the afternoon warmth dries up the day’s wet weather.

An excellent view of what rain can do to a hazy, Saharan dust sky was shared in late June 2020 from northern Trinidad:

Take time to check out the sunset Tuesday and Wednesday

A lighter concentration of Saharan dust usually brings a brilliant glow to the evening sky as the sun drops to the horizon. In this case, the concentration is expected to be incredibly high keeping the scattering process for those colors to shine from happening. We can call it unique, though. Assuming rain and clouds are out of the area, the sun should look like a bright pinhole as it dives to the horizon. Check out what it looked like over the Brazos Valley back in July of 2016 and again in 2018:

Have Saharan dust pictures to share in the coming day? Upload them here or in your KBTX PinPoint Weather App.

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