A bigger-than-usual air layer traveling from the Saharan Desert is expected to reach Louisiana Wednesday, bringing dry air, dust, new allergens, and an interesting sunrise and sunset.
LSU Geography and Anthropology Professor, Jill Trepanier, said that air layers from the Sahara Desert are not unusual in traveling across the Atlantic Ocean with trade winds.
"Right now, there is a particularly active plume as they are calling it, the Sahara Dust plume, that's moving onto the area, and it'll do a few things," said Trepanier. "But it's not unprecedented. Its not new. It's not something that's never been seen before."
She said that this active plume may be the biggest one in the past two decades. A multitude of thunderstorms over the Sahara Desert created a "weird dynamic" and caused the Saharan dust plume according to Trepanier.
Louisiana is not expected to get the magnitude of effects like Puerto Rico or Florida, but, because Louisiana residents are accustom to humid weather, the plume will bring a burst of dry weather along with different pollen. However, Trepanier does not think residents should be concerned.
Because Louisiana lifted the stay-home order and more people are driving, Trepanier said that people probably will not be able to notice major dustiness and haziness from the air layer.
"If this would have happened three months ago when nobody was driving, I think you would have seen a bigger impact," said Trepanier.
Trepanier recommended that people who suffer from respiratory problems, asthma, and allergies stay indoors during the afternoon. She also recommended that people wear lotion, chapstick, and sunscreen as the air plume brings dryness and excelled UV rays.
"I think most Louisianians are used to being in humid air even in the driest times of the year here," said Trepanier. "I think that is going to be the biggest routine game-changer is that people are going to be like 'do I need chapstick? I feel like I might need chapstick today.'"
With dry hands and increased allergens, the Saharan air layer also brings pretty sunrises and sunsets. Trepanier advises photography students to be "heads to the sky" for an interesting golden hour.
"There's going to be tons of stuff for all of that extra scattering to happen at those later hours of the day and early hours of the morning, so you're going to get to see really cool developments of sunrises and sunsets," said Trepanier. "I think photographers should be out on the lookout for some weird looking skies."
Another positive effect of the Saharan plume is that it is expected to halt any hurricane production in the Gulf. Trepanier said the dusty layer that traveled across the Atlantic would terminate hurricane development.
"The really cool thing is we will probably have way less hurricane development over the course of this dominant Saharan air layer which is this extra dusty layer of the atmosphere that, again, is always there just sometimes worse than others," said Trepanier. "And when a hurricane comes in, it likes heat, it likes water, so you bring a nice dusty air in, it's going to kill a hurricane."
Trepanier emphasized that the Saharan air layer "is not the next of 2020" because there are not extreme concerns that could cause harm to residents.