Saharan dust settles over Texas

Saharan dust settles over Texas

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

If you are noticing lower visibility, the dust you are seeing is not from New Mexico or anywhere else on this side of the world. 

The Saharan sands have journeyed more than 5,000 miles halfway across Africa, over the Atlantic and are now settling in Texas.

"It's really not that uncommon for plumes of dust to break off from the Sahara, mainly from the Sahara Desert area and move across the Atlantic," said Jody James with the National Weather Service. "Sometimes those are thicker and we have had one of those over the last week to 10 days."

James said the dirt is swooped up into the atmosphere and carried away, similar to what happens when dust comes in from New Mexico.

"We have dust from Eastern New Mexico or out here sometimes folks in Dallas or even further East and it's always amazing very, very small particles typically and it takes very small particles to get lofted," he said. 

Not enough of the desert sands have made their way into Lubbock to cause major problems however they could be wreaking havoc on your sinuses.

"So dust is a fine particle mostly silica, you can get, as I mentioned bacteria, viruses, mold, but the other particulates can be mixed in that can be harmful for us, you get a lot of pollutants," said James Tarbox, an Allergist with Texas Tech's Health Science Center.

He said in order to prevent suffering from the dust there are a few things to keep in mind, such as taking a daily allergy pill.

"Probably one of the most important things you can do if you have an underlying allergies or lung disease is take your medicine," Tarbox said. "If you tend to be someone who is very susceptible to the environment then you might want to go and buy a protective mask. I prefer a carbon filtered mask because they're a little better than the flimsy surgical mask. Besides that make sure your filtration systems in your home as well as your car are up to date."

James said there is no timetable on how long the dust could take before it moves out of the area.

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