How does dust from Africa cross the ocean?

fun science for kids--dust cloud in Texas from Africa

If you live in central or coastal Texas or Mexico, you’ll be seeing some interesting skies this weekend as a dust cloud from Africa rolls in. It’s a great opportunity to talk about world geography and weather science with the kids. And if you and your kids don’t live in those areas, you can still see images online from this amazing phenomenon.

Science question for kids: How does dust from Africa end up in Texas?

What kids can do: If you’re in Texas or Mexico, look up this Saturday at the hazy skies. In the evenings, check out how the dust scatters sunlight to create some pretty amazing sunsets. If you’re not in these areas, check out some video or photo coverage online. Then find the Sahara Desert on a world map to see just how far this dust cloud has traveled!

Why this happens: The dust comes from the Sahara Desert in Africa. Storms just south of the Sahara Desert create winds that lift desert dust from the Sahara up high into the sky. Winds can then carry that dust thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. Dust clouds from the Sahara can be as big as the U.S. and can take up to 2 weeks to cross the ocean!

Note: The dust particles can irritate allergies and asthma, so be careful this weekend if you or your family has sensitivities.

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