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Large plume of African dust could hit Southern Illinois this weekend

A NASA satellite image from 2013 shows a cloud of dust carried by strong winds from sources in the Western Sahara.
A NASA satellite image from 2013 shows a cloud of dust carried by strong winds from sources in the Western Sahara. Provided

A large plume of African dust was heading toward the United States, and experts predicted it could hit Southern Illinois this weekend.

It's not unusual for dust to be picked up by wind storms crossing the Sahara Desert in Africa. The dust gets sucked into the atmosphere and then remains suspended high above the ground by strong, upper-level trade winds.

The winds are so strong, they can blow the dust across the Atlantic Ocean, sometimes even reaching the United States. When that happens, a thin layer of dust is sometimes discovered on vehicles and homes in mostly southern states, and it can cause problems for people with breathing issues.

Forecasters were calling for this weekend's African dust plume to reach Southern Illinois on Sunday and Monday. If there's rain, the dust probably won't be too noticeable, except the sky may look hazier than usual.

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