October 19, 2012

Dust plume moving through Georgia

From Staff Reports

— A strong low pressure system that moved in from Canada earlier this week and swept up dust from the Midwest is transporting those dirt particles high over the sky through Georgia and other parts of the Southeast today, the National Weather Service said.

Forecaster George Wetzel said the system moved through Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas and the Dakotas, sweeping up a giant cloud of dust from the newly harvested fields and moving it across the United States.

Just this afternoon, it moved into the northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, Wetzel said. It’s expected to be gone by tomorrow.

A radar system in Dalton shows normal visibility has been reduced to about seven miles, he said, but it’s because of the dust and not because of cloud cover. Still, Wetzel said the dust plume is high enough in the atmosphere that it likely won’t cause many problems on the surface.

“Actually,” he said, “I think tonight’s sunset is going to be amazing.”

He said the dust particles can intensify the colors.

Georgia Forestry Commission Ranger 1 Matt Rymer said members of the public have been calling with concerns the haze is actually smoke from a fire.

“The smoke or haze is from a dust devil that came from Kansas,” he said. “I know it sounds crazy, but it got up in the atmosphere and came down on us. I’ve heard it’s all the way down to Fairmount, up past the Tennessee line, and even to Walker County.”