The Saharan Air Layer, also known as SAL is made up of tiny particles of dirt and sand. These particles are suspended up from the Saharan Desert by updrafts, which are upward movements of air. These updrafts are caused by the summer heat and thunderstorms that evolve across the Saharan Desert.
The tiny particles of dirt and sand are usually suspended between 5,000 and 20,000 ft up into the atmosphere. Strong winds above our heads help transport the dry and dusty air across the Atlantic, sometimes reaching portions of the United States.
The Saharan Air Layer is also known to inhibit hurricane development, as it limits the amount of moisture in the air over the Atlantic. Moisture is like fuel to hurricanes, they have to have a large source of moisture in order to maintain their strength or become stronger. This dry airmass robs hurricanes from there moisture source and hurts their development.
The dust is harmless to most, but can create poor air quality depending on how much dust is in the atmosphere. People with respiratory issues may have a harder time breathing with the dust around.
The dust can make for absolutely amazing sunrises and sunsets. WVVA viewers sent us numerous photos of the Saharan Dust across our viewing area. It was impossible to show all of them on air, but don't be disappointed. Below is a gallery showing even more of your beautiful photos.