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Coming to America: African Dust; Is It Unusual?

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Lots of attention has been given to a pall of dust spewing from the Saharan Desert, across the tropical Atlantic and arrives on the shore of the Americas this summer.  In fact, even now skies are hazy from that phenomenon.  What is happening, why is it occurring, and how unusual is it?  First, it is normal for dust from North Africa to be lifted aloft and carried westward across the Atlantic Basin.  The Saharan Desert lies beneath the Easterly Trade Winds during the summer months, so as storms lift the dust off the desert it is carried toward the Americas.  In fact, Saharan dust is rich in phosphorus, an essential material that replenishes nutrients to the Amazon Basin.  The annoying aspect, of course, comes when the dust causes irritation to allergy sufferers and those with respiratory illnesses.  Try to limit outdoor activities until skies clear.

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