A massive dust plume from Africa's Sahara Desert is expected to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast this week, according to forecasters.
Nicknamed "Godzilla" for its unusually enormous size, the cloud of dust known as the Saharan Air Layer emerged off western Africa last weekend, traveling 5,000 miles across the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, the Weather Channel reported.
The latest NASA model projecting the path of the dust plume has the initial wave pushing into the deep South on Wednesday before heading into Texas on Friday. It will hook back eastward over the Southeast and Tennessee Valley during the weekend.
Although dust plumes are fairly common, this latest one "is the most significant event in the past 50 years," Pablo Méndez Lázaro, an environmental health specialist with the University of Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press.
The National Weather Service said the main impacts of the Saharan dust are "whitening of the sky during daylight hours, redder sunsets, and decreased air quality."
AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said the massive dust plume is "probably the worst air quality caused by Saharan dust in recent memory."
"Air quality could also drop to moderate to unhealthy this weekend over South and East Texas due to the dust," Kottlowski said. "So, people with respiratory issues should not spend any long periods of time outdoors. Some people with severe respiratory conditions may just want to stay indoors."
Track the dust storm here.