Here’s when exceptionally vibrant sunrises, sunsets could come to Central Florida

Early-season Saharan Dust plume on the move across Atlantic

Saharan dust

ORLANDO, Fla. – It happens every year, but this time around it’s a little early. Large plumes of dust are blown across the Atlantic by the trade winds all the way from the Sahara Desert.

Typically the U.S. doesn’t see it’s first round of dust until later in June. But by late week, the plume looks to enter the Caribbean.

By the weekend, the dust will make its way into Florida and other Gulf Coast states.

Saharan dust

If you notice the sunrise or sunset even more vibrant than they already are this weekend and early next week, it is because of the dust particles in our atmosphere. The concentration of dust has to be just right, however. If it is too thick, it will make the sunrise or sunset a little more milky than vibrant.

This dust is one of the reasons why tropical activity isn’t high in between Africa and the Caribbean islands during the early summer months. The dust becomes less prolific in the Atlantic by the middle and latter stages of summer.

The dust particles are suspended thousands of feet in the sky, but when exceptionally prolific can create issues for allergy sufferers. There are several other pros and cons to the annually occurring event, but one of the pros is great sunrises and sunsets.

Why is the color better?

When the sun is low on the horizon in the morning and evening, the sun’s rays have to travel through more of the Earth’s atmosphere. The light scatters more, producing beautiful red, orange and pink colors in the sky. When small dust particles are introduced, more scattering takes places enhancing the already vibrant colors

Here’s an example of a sunrise with Saharan Dust in our sky from three years ago.


About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.