Air Quality Warning issued for Kentucky due to Saharan dust cloud

June 26, 2020 | 5:53 pm

Updated June 26, 2020 | 5:54 pm

Graphic by Owensboro Times


The Kentucky Department of Public Health has issued an Air Quality Warning for the state of Kentucky for Saturday and Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, a dust cloud blowing across the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara Desert in Africa has been impacting air quality over the southern United States in recent days. Some of this dust will reach Kentucky this weekend resulting in poor air quality.

The general public is not likely to be affected, according to NWS. Members of the following sensitive groups may experience health effects: the elderly, children, people with asthma or other breathing problems, and persons with lung and heart disease. NWS advises people in those groups to limit their outdoor activities to reduce their exposure to particulate pollution.


KDPH Commissioner Steven Stack said in a release that Kentuckians should consistently check the air quality in their zip code at and watch for any changes in the sky’s color and visibility.

Dust particles in the air may cause people to experience eye irritation, lung and throat irritation and trouble breathing. 

According to the release from the KDPH, this type of dust plume — known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) — is an annual phenomenon in the late spring, summer and early fall. It can occupy a 2-2.5 mile thick layer in the atmosphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

However, the most recent SAL cloud, first formed on June 14, is unusually large. It is one of the thickest on record and nearly 5,000 miles long.

June 26, 2020 | 5:53 pm

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