Sure, it's always hot in Texas in July, but this week, a new ingredient from the other side of the planet is adding to the heat misery there: Plumes of dust from the Sahara Desert, which will bring hazy skies to the Lone Star State.
"The haze is due to dust from the Sahara Desert being blown thousands of miles to the west," according to AccuWeather meteorologist Dean DeVore.
Monday morning, the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth said "the combination of the Sahara dust plume ... and pollutants within immediate urban areas is already resulting in hazy conditions across parts of the area."
Air quality will also be a concern. "Combined with oppressive heat, the air quality will be like experiencing the desert itself," tweeted meteorologist Ryan Maue of weather.us.
AirNow warned Monday that "people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion."
Temperatures could reach record levels this week. "This heat will reach far and wide with the majority of Texas, Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico seeing temperatures above 100 degrees all week," the weather service office in Midland, Texas, said. "Many record highs could be in jeopardy."
The nighttime will not offer much relief from the oppressive conditions as overnight lows only dip into the middle 70s to lower 80s, AccuWeather said.
Plumes of African dust across the Atlantic are not uncommon. In fact, hundreds of millions of tons of soil is lifted from the Sahara every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. However, this recent event is on the larger side.
Dust from Africa is more common in the Caribbean islands, but occasionally it can make its way into Mexico and parts of the Florida Peninsula and Texas. And when it's over the Atlantic Ocean, the extremely dry, dusty air from the Sahara can also prevent hurricanes from forming, NASA said.
A good amount of this dust can trace its origins back to a dry lake bed in north-central Chad known as the Bodélé depression, NOAA said.
Incredibly, the dust itself is made up of the “skeletons” of diatoms, microorganisms that trace their origin back to when the Bodélé depression was full of water. These diatoms are picked up by winds that are naturally accelerated through a gap in the mountains upwind of the depression.