Air quality to be impacted as Sahara dust cloud comes to Texas

A massive dust cloud from the Sahara Desert has moved into Central Texas and another is on the way.

The good news is that the dust clouds make for some amazing sunsets but the bad news is that they also cause hazy days and most importantly, bad air quality.

Another Texas-sized dust cloud that's currently covering the Caribbean is predicted to make it's way to our area.

"So what happens this time of year? You get these massive storm systems that go across Africa and these big, massive thunderstorm complexes kick up the dust and then those powerful updrafts within those storms carry that dust at least a mile up in the atmosphere," says Good Day Austin meteorologist Zack Shields. 

"And then they go off the coast of Africa and then the tropical trade winds pick up that plume of dust and send it all the way toward North America," Shields adds.

So what does that mean for you? 

Dr. Neha Reshamwala, M.D. with Frontier Allergy Asthma and Immunology says, "What happens is that if you're already at baseline, have some respiratory issues, the size of the particles getting deposited, they're small sometimes can really cause more increased inflammation in patients lungs and exacerbate their asthma or the COPD."


The dust cloud will push Austin's air quality into the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" category according to TCEQ. 

Dr. Reshamwala says even those with underlying respiratory problems may feel it.

"They can have actually increased symptoms of some shortness of breath, chest tightness, a wheezing increase in coughing in the daytime or at nighttime. So those are kind of some of the symptoms that patients should be monitoring for," Dr. Reshamwala says.

If you have allergies or respiratory problems, experts say you may want to talk to your doctor about increasing medication, monitor your condition, wear a mask, and if you can just stay inside.