The local weather folks usually talk about this when it's taking place, pointing to their maps as the African dusts blow in and then blow through. It's not like the dust hangs around for long, naturally. But during summertime weeks when this well-traveled dust wafts our way, those small particles can make our mornings and evenings bigtime bright.
I offer up all this to emphasize an observation I make on occasion in these blogs: South Florida's environment is like no other. Anywhere. And that never ceases to amaze me. I think lots of us who live here, or visit often, feel that same way. We are astonished by the complexity and variety of this subtropical landscape. There's no sensible debate about our environmental uniqueness, of course, because the Everglades alone proves the point. Simply nowhere on this planet is the same as our Everglades. In many other ways too, flora and fauna combine with climate to create those astonishing things. Yes, the Caribbean also gets some of the African dust, but a Caribbean island won't give you those dramatic sunsets over a sprawling Everglades - or those dramatic sunrises during a quiet walk on the Fort Lauderdale beach either. Do you know this dust has to hitch a windy ride for at least 4,000 miles to get to us? And maybe as many as 6,000 miles? I recently learned it takes a full week for dust to reach South Florida from North Africa. The next time you witness an especially brilliant South Florida sky soon after dawn or just before twilight, you may want to explore online to find out if African dust is paying us another call. Chances are good that it is. That dust may have blown off the Pyramids or whirled up from the Temple of Karnak, or perhaps simply come from some barren stretch of the Sahara. It doesn't matter, really. The truly astonishing thing isn't where the dust began the journey. It's where the journey ends.