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Saharan dust will impact Sunday's air quality in central Virginia

Posted at 8:55 AM, Jun 28, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- Over the past week, a layer of Saharan dust has moved across the Atlantic and into the United States. This had a big impact on the far southern states, with visibility reduced in areas like Houston.

Part of the dust has moved into Virginia. This will move across the state during Sunday, with air quality improving Sunday night into Monday.

In the maps below, dust thick enough to create haze and possibly impact breathing are where the green and orange colors occur. The blue color indicates very minimal dust that would not impact overall air quality.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has classified Sunday's air quality in central Virginia as "Code Orange" due to the fine particulates in the air. This will be unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes those with breathing or heart ailments, as well as young children and the elderly. It is best to stay inside with air conditioning, and any activities outside should be limited.

After the dust exits, it will remain hot and humid this week. The typical summer weather may cause some breathing issues for those with overly-sensitive health conditions.

The Saharan dust is a phenomenon that occurs each summer, when easterly winds blow a giant dust layer off the west coast of Africa and over the Atlantic. During peak periods, this dust can reach the United States.

More areas of dust will continue across the Atlantic over the coming week. There will be more impacts on the western Gulf from the next batch, but other areas across the Atlantic will not be quite as bad as this current one.

In these maps below, the highest dust concentrations are shown in red and magenta.

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