DISCUSSION: Through the course of a given year, there are often periods of time during which many parts of northern Africa as well as parts of the Middle East feel the effects of dust storms. During the final approach and ultimate impacts from prolific dust plume intrusions, often times, there are pronounced impacts inflicted on both life and property. During the heart of dust plume events, winds often rapidly increase and visibility is quickly reduced down to dangerous thresholds. In the particular situation, captured in the live footage from part of the Sudan, visibility with this particular dust plume was reduced to as little as 10 meters in some places for a brief period of time. Thus, it just goes to show that something as simple as a dust plume has the potential to induce severe problems with respect to both travel and/or communication.
In addition, aside from potential impacts from dust plumes across parts of the Middle East, dust plumes can also impact other weather phenomena around the world on different scales. For example, dust plumes originating from the central and western Saharan Desert can often encounter developing tropical storms across the Tropical Atlantic Ocean basin and inhibit their development due to stronger dry air intrusions. In addition, dust plumes (even in a more weakened state) can reach mainland areas across North and/or South America can create hazy conditions as well as invigorate respiratory issues with people dealing with asthmatic or other related conditions due to higher dust concentrations in given regions.
The second image from the top illustrates the classic structure and approximate scaling of such dust plumes which emerge off of western Africa (courtesy of the UW-CIMSS research group). In addition, you will notice how there also tends to be mid-latitude dry air intrusions nearby as well which can sometimes be confused with dust plumes from a satellite-based perspective and are important to differentiate. Lastly, you can see how such dust plumes which emerge off of western Africa are often the size of entire regions of the United States which speaks to the massive amounts of coverage have the ability to achieve during their existence.
To learn more about other high-impact weather stories/topics occurring across Africa, click on the following link: https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/africa.
© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz