A gigantic plume of dust from the Sahara Desert appears to be tracking towards the Southern United States.

How does this happen? Winds sweep up minuscule particles from the desert and are carried by an air mass known as the Saharan Air Layer. Every year, hundreds of millions of tons of this dust are blown 5,000 miles across the Atlantic. This occurs mainly during the summer months.

The National Weather Service in Houston (below) says they could see red skies at sunrise and sunset next week because of the dust.

Because of the tiny size of the particles, most people in the affected areas will probably not even notice the dust. But those with respiratory problems, as well as the elderly and young children, can be especially sensitive to the dust and may experience some irritation.

Experts are predicting the dust will reach the southern U.S. by the middle of next week.

Credit: RAMMB