AUSTIN, TX — If you’ve found yourself sneezing lately with your allergies acting up, the reason could be summed up in two words: Saharan dust.
The arrival of the dust from across the Atlantic Ocean is a perennial occurrence in the early part of the summer, distinguished by obscured visibility and hazy skies. The dust also does a number on allergy sufferers in Central Texas, although has minimal adverse impact on the environment.
Some comfort — to those susceptible to allergies or not — is that the dust tends to suppress hurricane development. So there’s that at least.
The African dust is affecting not just Central Texas, but most of the state — with the biggest concentrations in South Texas and along the coast, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“Overall, depending on the intensity and coverage of the dust, the daily PM2.5 AQI is forecast to reach the middle of the ‘moderate’ range in parts of the Brownsville-McAllen, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio areas; the lower to middle of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Austin, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Laredo, and Victoria areas; the lower end of the “Moderate” range in parts of the Lubbock and Tyler-Longview areas; and the upper end of the “Good” range in parts of the Amarillo, Big Bend, El Paso, Midland-Odessa, and Waco-Killeen areas,” TCEQ officials wrote on their home page.
While the dust is largely benign, those suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments are most susceptible. Dust-induced symptoms can include asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, sneezing fits, swelling of the throat and eyes, coughing, watery and itchy eyes, runny and stuffy nose.