African dust blows into Houston, more on the way

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Have you noticed the hazy gray sky over Houston today? Another dust cloud from Africa is here, traveling 5,000 miles across the Atlantic basin to Texas, and even more are on the way.

Global weather patterns are being shifted in unusual ways due to a strengthening El Nino, or warming of the waters, in the central Pacific Ocean. One side of effect is that unusually strong winds called "easterlies" are blowing from Africa straight toward the Caribbean and then turning north toward Texas, sending a larger than normal number of Sahara Desert dust clouds our way.

What does this mean for us?

For starters, we're seeing a lot more haze in the sky. This is due to the fine dust particles that are most heavily concentrated about 10,000 feet off the ground. Some of those fine dust particles are falling down to the ground, reducing our air quality and possibly aggravating the lungs of those with conditions such as asthma and emphysema.

On a positive note, these dust clouds are typically associated with high wind shear and dry air, reducing the odds of tropical development. Studies have also shown that these dust clouds can deposit minerals in the soil that are beneficial to plants.

Watch the video above as Meteorologist Travis Herzog shows NASA's computer model forecast for the arrival of more African dust this holiday weekend. null
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