(CMR) It is being described as one of the worst dust storms to hit the Caribbean region in decades.
It has turned the usually blue skies of Cayman hazy and it is proving disastrous for those of us with allergies and respiratory ailments.
But what else do you know about the Saharan dust plume?
Today CMR is sharing five things you need to know to better help you understand the Saharan dust storm phenomenon.
It may interfere with the formation of hurricanes
While the scientific community is divided on the matter, Saharan dust has significant effects on tropical weather, it is said to interfere with the development of hurricanes.
It may be good for beaches
Given that the phenomenon is responsible for transporting sediments over thousands of kilometers, such storms can transport large volumes of sand, helping to build up beaches.
Bad for coral reefs
While it may help to build up sand deposits, according to one 2006 study it may be helping to destroy coral reefs. Saharan dust is said to infect coral reefs with Sea Fan disease (aspergillosis).
May boost plantain production
Dust from the Sahara carries with it mineral nutrients, in particular iron, and this has been linked to increased plantain growth in Hawaii. However, the dust can also kill some vegetation.
Increases the spread of disease.
Dust storms don't just transport dust particles, sometimes they help to spread virus spores. Several studies have shown an increase in the spread of diseases due to dust storms.