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Sahara dust brings sunny days

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Published on Friday, August 4, 2023
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A decrease in rain and sunny days are expected due to a massive Saharan dust cloud passing over the country from Friday, Aug. 4 to Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Known as the Saharan Air Layer, SAL, this dry dust plume commonly forms from late spring through early fall and moves into the tropical Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.

The densest plume began to emerge off western Africa last weekend and has now traveled over 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.

According to specialists of the Meteorological Institute, a massive zone of dust from the Sahara Desert reached the Caribbean Sea and is expected to increase in winds and decrease rains in the Pacific Coast (Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces) and the Central Valley (including the provinces of San Josť, Heredia, Alajuela and Cartago).

The Saharan Air Layer is typically located between 5,000 and 20,000 feet above the Earth's surface. It is transported westward by bursts of strong winds and tropical waves located in the central and western Atlantic oceans at altitudes between 6,500 and 14,500 feet.

The Saharan dust plume is forecasted to continue plowing westward through the Caribbean Sea, then reach parts of the Gulf Coast and Deep South next week.

Dust plumes like these typically become less concentrated the farther west they move. "The dust particles can contribute to hazy skies and spectacular sunrises and sunsets in the Caribbean Islands, South Florida, the Florida Keys and the U.S. Gulf Coast," NOAA's specialist said in its report.

What have you heard about the weather effects of Saharan dust in your country? 
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com

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