'Godzilla dust cloud' headed to St. Louis isn't as rare as you may think, says KMOX meteorologist

KMOX and AccuWeather's Dean DeVore tells us this is something that happens a couple times a year, but the size of this one is what's causing the excitement.

Sam Masterson
June 24, 2020 - 2:18 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - You'll notice in St. Louis this weekend that the sky may look a bit more gray than normal. That's because of a large dust cloud expected to blanket many states across the U.S. this week. 

Although the size of this one is rare, the dust itself is a pretty typical event, according to AccuWeather's Dean DeVore. 

A vast cloud of Sahara dust has blanketed the Caribbean and is headed to the U.S. with a size and concentration that experts say hasn’t been seen in half a century. It's expected to hit the Gulf Coast on Wednesday and Thursday, then will be in St. Louis on Saturday. 

DeVore says the St. Louis area is on the northern tip of the expected path of the dust cloud, but because of higher humidity there won't be much to see. He says if it was hitting the area on Wednesday there would be a better chance of really noticing it, but on Saturday and Sunday it won't be much of a factor and "certainly shouldn't affect air quality." 

“This is the most significant event in the past 50 years,” Pablo Méndez Lázaro, an environmental health specialist with the University of Puerto Rico told the Associated Press. “Conditions are dangerous in many Caribbean islands.”

That's why some scientists have started to call this one the "Godzilla dust cloud."

The mass of extremely dry and dusty air known as the Saharan Air Layer forms over the Sahara Desert and moves across the Atlantic Ocean every three to five days from late spring to early fall, peaking in late June to mid-August, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It can occupy a roughly two-mile thick layer in the atmosphere, the agency said.

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