A so-called Godzilla dust cloud is about to blanket entire regions of the US, sparking health warnings and apocalyptic fears among Americans. The massive plume of dust from the Sahara desert in northern Africa has already wreaked havoc in the Caribbean. The latest NASA satellite model shows the dust covering the Gulf of Mexico and Texas later today before heading into the deep South later this week.
The path of the dust will then move back eastward over the Southeast and Tennessee Valley area by the weekend, reaching Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
The NASA Earth Observatory revealed that the thickest part of the cloud appears to stretch around 1,500 miles across the Atlantic.
NASA astronaut Doug Hurley tweeted from on board the ISS: “We flew over this Saharan dust plume today in the west central Atlantic. Amazing how large an area it covers.”
Another astronaut Bob Behnken also tweeted remarkable footage of the cloud from space, adding: “Saharan dust cloud is amazingly persistent.”
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There are mounting fears in the south-eastern United States as the dust cloud closes in on the country.
Experts suggest this cloud appears to be one of the most extreme in recent memory.
Pablo Méndez Lázaro, an environmental health specialist at the University of Puerto Rico, said: “This is the most significant event in the past 50 years.
“Conditions are dangerous in many Caribbean islands.”
Officials have warned people to stay indoors and use air filters if they had them.
AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski added that “this is probably the worst air quality caused by Saharan dust in recent memory”.
The mass of extremely dry and dusty air is known as the Saharan Air Layer and forms over the Sahara desert.
It moves across the North Atlantic every three to five days between late spring and early autumn, peaking in late June to mid-August.
The layer can be three kilometres thick, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.