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The Dust from Africa is Here

Dusty skies in Coral Bay

If you’ve been watching our webcams this week, you may have noticed that our skies look a bit hazier than normal. Or perhaps you are one of the very few people currently on island, you have definitely seen this for yourself. Well, in either case, it’s not haze you’re seeing in our skies. It’s actually Saharan Dust, dust that has traveled all the way over here from Africa. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Each year, typically during spring and summer months, dust and sand from the Sahara Desert float up from Africa and travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean via the trade winds. When the dust arrives in the territory, our typically bright blue skies are replaced by a grey haze. Visibility is reduced, and our air quality becomes poor. The dust can last for a day, a few days, or even a week in some cases. It looks like the dust that is currently clouding up our skies will pass through by the end of the week.

One cool thing about the Saharan Dust is that you can track it on radar, just like you can track a rainstorm. I like to use to track it. The first image below is the dust as of this morning (May 10th), and the second image is Friday night’s forecast.

Saharan Dust May 10th at 8 a.m.
Saharan Dust forecast for Friday at 11 p.m.

Ther good news is that the dust is expected to clear by the end of the week. The not-so-good news is that it may return at some point next week.

A good consequence of the dust is that it makes it harder for hurricanes to form, as it consists of very dry air. So while I miss my bright blue skies, I will take some dust over a hurrance any day of the week. 🙂

Here are a couple of pictures that show what the skies look like with and without the dust to give you a better idea of its effects.

The view from The Windmill Bar
The view from The Windmill Bar with this week’s dust
Coral Bay without the dust
Coral Bay this week
Cruz Bay
Cruz Bay with yesterday’s dust

If you would like to track the Saharan dust in St. John, check out

And if you’d like to check out the dust in realtime, please check out our webcams at

That’s it for today, folks. I’m heading out to pick up island tour guests now. I’ll take some more photos today and will share them with you all later. And if you’re looking to take an island tour, please email me at for more information or visit

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  1. Pingback:Island Update: A Little of This & A Little of That - Explore STJ

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