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Saharan dust cloud expected

  • Haze grey: Cuban police officers wearing masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus walk at dusk under a cloud of Sahara dust in the air in Havana this week (Photograph by Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Dust on car windshields this weekend will have journeyed thousands of miles to reach the island.

A plume of Sahara Desert dust, which has blanketed the Caribbean in a haze this week before it swept northeast to the United States, has made its way to Bermuda.

Experts warned the dust could cause spectacular sunsets — but also create health problems for people with respiratory problems.

The Saharan dust drifts as far as South America and the Caribbean, on a regular basis and scientists have known for decades that dust from the African desert has helped to improve Bermuda soil.

But this month’s especially large plume carried across the Atlantic by trade winds was said to be a once-in-half-century event.

James Dodgson, the director of the Bermuda Weather Service, said yesterday: “Although not common, we can be affected on occasion, as the anticyclonic winds around our Bermuda-Azores, high-pressure system draw up some of this dust and sand from the tropical Atlantic.”

Mr Dodgson added: “Generally, it is not significant enough to reduce our visibility or cause health implications — as it has done to our neighbours in the Caribbean.”

But he told the public: “However, don’t be surprised if you find a thin film of dust or sand on your vehicle this weekend after the rains we have forecast.”

The BWS said southerly winds ahead of a cold front could have carried enough Saharan dust to tinge Bermuda’s skies red yesterday.

Forecasters said that atmospheric dust would likely be brought down by showers predicted for last night.