Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dust, Dust, and More Dust

Dust Views from our rooftop.

"Its really dusty there!" said Mark Rossetti over the phone.

Mark was standing at the Delta Airlines arrival counter in New York, luggage in tow. He had been hoping to arrive in Dakar the next morning for a visit, but had just been informed the flight was cancelled due to bad weather in Senegal. Not rain, not wind. Dust.

This is one of the hazards of living too close to the Sahara desert. When the wind blows for too long, from the wrong direction, a plume of fine sand fills the air. It can obscure the sun for days, interrupt air travel, and leave thousands of people with lingering coughs and black boogers. This dust cloud is apparently the worst since 2010.

Here's a sattelite image found on The Watchers website taken from NASA.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

I spoke to the foreman at a construction site in Dakar today. He had some ideas about how to protect yourself from the dust, which some people believe can spread diseases like meningitis.

"Milk helps get the dust through the system. We also use masks when it is bad or go to the pharmacy to buy anti-dust pills. We're used to this, we know how to deal with it," he said during a break to sip heavily sugared Senegalese black tea.

Good news is that the cloud is meant to lift starting tomorrow. By the time Mark arrives on his rescheduled flight Sunday morning, we're looking at clear skies.

A footprint on our floor.