African dust cloud returns to Houston skies this weekend

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- African dust season is upon us in Houston, and ABC13 Chief Meteorologist Travis Herzog says this year's first dust cloud from the Sahara Desert will reach us this weekend.

The thickest part of this cloud blows into Houston Saturday. You'll see a "Saharan sunset" Saturday evening and wake up to more haze on Father's Day.

Most of us will just notice a change to the color of the sky, but if you noticed any health impacts during dust clouds last summer, you may consider reducing your outdoor exposure over the weekend.

VIDEO: Drone footage captures dust storm across area
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Drone footage of African dust storm across the Houston area.

The dust will start thinning out Sunday afternoon as scattered afternoon downpours pop up in southeast Texas.

So what does it mean for you?
Travis says most of these fine dust particles will stay suspended thousands of feet above ground, turning the sky a hazy gray. For most of you, that's the only difference you'll notice, but some of you may encounter respiratory issues.

A portion of this microscopic dust, known as particulate matter, does reach the ground and can penetrate deep into our lungs. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, studies have shown chemical contaminants and microorganisms can also survive the trek across the Atlantic, but few studies have been conducted on the impact to human health.

Sensitive individuals with asthma, allergies, and other lung conditions may notice flare ups, especially after prolonged outdoor exposure. Other sensitive groups include the elderly, young children, and pets. If you are concerned about the impact to your health, consider limiting your time outside.

There is a seasonal cycle to when African dust clouds can reach Houston. Travis says they normally track through our sky in May, June, and July.

The good news about the dust clouds? They typically prevent hurricanes from developing.

Follow Travis Herzog on Facebook and Twitter.
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