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Why the massive Saharan dust plume is nicknamed Godzilla

Godzilla is heading to the United States this weekend, reports say

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Boats sit docked in the bay as a Sahara dust cloud looms over Panama City, Thursday, June 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Boats sit docked in the bay as a Sahara dust cloud looms over Panama City, Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Arnulfo Franco, Associated Press

A massive Saharan dust plume is heading to the U.S. this weekend, and it has a sort of terrifying nickname — “Godzilla.”

So what’s going on?

  • As I wrote about last week, there’s a massive Saharan dust plumeheading toward the United States from the Caribbean. It will be the end of a 5,000-mile journey from Africa to the United States.
  • The plume of duststarted in the Sahara desert.
  • The thick plume of dust is the thickest its been in history, accumulating size in the late spring. Normally, the dust gains size as it moves over the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The dust will create impressive sunrises and sunsets across the country. There may be added air particles in the air, too.

Why is it called Godzilla?

The dust plume is reported nicknamed “Godzilla,” taken from the dinosaur-like monster, according to USA Today.

So what’s behind the nickname? Well, here’s a good explanation, according to Forbes:

  • “It’s an unusually large cloud, nicknamed Godzilla because it’s potentially the largest such cloud in 50 years.”
  • Godzillais not the cloud’s official name. It’s technically called the Saharan Air Layer because it’s a traveling layer of air with stuff originating from the Saharan Desert. Winds whipped up particulate matter from the Desert in North Africa, depositing it into the cloud, so to speak. This dust in the wind is a relatively regular (often yearly) occurrence.”
  • “You may not have had Godzilla dust cloud on your 2020 Bingo Card. But here we are. The massive traveling dust cloud could affect air quality, similar to the way air pollution would, but it’s not going to be a disaster.”