Georgia officials warned this weekend about potential health problems related to the Saharan dust cloud hovering over the state.
The Georgia Department of Public Health said Saturday the dust cloud is expected to hang around for the next few days and people, especially those with chronic lung conditions, should protect themselves.
The dust plume originated in Africa earlier this year, when a combination of weather factors led to dust kicked up by storms in central and west Africa gathering into a dense plume, which was pushed about 5,000 miles toward the United States.
It’s normal for Saharan dust to reach the United States every hurricane season, but this year’s cloud is historic, forecasters said. Georgia health officials say the dust is the densest it’s been in 50-60 years.
Air quality alerts related to the dust are posted across portions of the Ohio River Valley, mid-Atlantic, and Southeast, CNN meteorologists said Sunday.
The dust can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and those with allergies or asthma may experience wheezing.
Georgia health officials urged residents to limit time spent outdoors if it appears dusty or hazy. When indoors, residents should keep windows and doors closed and run their air conditioner with the fresh-air intake closed.
Georgians should also wear a mask outside to keep dust particles out of the nose and mouth and to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, health officials said.
Another round of Saharan dust is expected to impact areas of Texas and the Louisiana Gulf Coast by mid-week, CNN meteorologists said, but it won’t be as dense as the plume currently affecting the Southeast.