July 6, 2014 - Dust storm off West Africa

Dust storm off West Africa

A vast amount of dust blew off of western African in June, 2014 – enough to create a long, unbroken, tan-colored river in the skies between Africa and the Americas. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Terra satellite captured this true-color image of the dust pouring off the African continent and over the North Atlantic Ocean.

Black lines have been overlain on the image to delineate country boundaries. From north the south the countries seen are Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea. Dust appears to stream from well inland, over most of the landscape and over the ocean, with the heaviest layers pouring off of Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. A camel-colored haze hangs over the entire region, in some places lightly and in some places so thickly that the Earth beneath is obscured from view. The multiple cloud banks, especially in the south, suggest unsettled weather that may be associated with the heavy winds driving dust from the Sahara Desert and initiating the westward flow.

By June 30, Saharan dust had reached the Arkansas River Valley in the United States, and a heavy dust stream was visualized by satellite over the eastern Texas coast. Smaller amounts of dust were visualized as far north as Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, eastward to Tennessee and Kentucky, and westward to New Mexico on that same day.

On July 5, NASA’s Earth Observatory published a composite image created from data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP as their Image of The Day. This image showed a broad view of the event. It can be accessed here: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php .

Image Facts
Satellite: Terra
Date Acquired: 6/22/2014
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC