A strong Saharan dust storm covered the Mediterranean Sea and much of Europe in late May, 2013, bringing an extraordinary end to a very dusty month. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on May 29 at 10:20 UTC (1:20 PM Eastern European Summer Time).
Although the afternoon skies were largely cloud-free, much of the ground was shrouded from view from a thick layer of tan dust, particularly Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia. An arc of dust rolled from Libya over the Mediterranean Sea, stretched to southern Ukraine (north of this image), then curled south and eastward over the Black Sea.
Dust storms are common in this region, and the fine particles move as if on a river of air across vast expanses, coming to rest in regions remote from their Saharan origin. African dust, originating from fine particles in arid topsoil, easily lifts in strong winds, and may rise more than 10,000 feet high. Dust clouds can cross the Atlantic, and may reach the Caribbean and the Americas in 5 to 7 days.