Mainland Fires & Sahara Dust Make For Uncommonly Hazy Skies

I never thought so much about WEATHER and all of her 1001 components until I moved to Belize.  In NYC, it was more:  check the hourly forecast and prepare accordingly.  Perhaps moan about the eternal darkness and cold in February and March and the heat in July and August but…most of it seemed expected.  Almost preordained.  There were rarely big surprises.

I clearly need to expand:  15 Things No One Told You About Living in Belize

Living on an island, in the Caribbean, just a few hundred feet from the ocean, and driving each day in an open-to-the-elements golf cart and sometimes in boats – I spend way too much time thinking about wind, especially wind direction, tides, rain, and lack of rain, sun, and sun intensity.  All sorts of elements that seem to be part of the DNA of people who grew up here but still can feel so new to me.  I am caught off-guard by the weather all of the time.  (And I check at least once a day!)

A meme I saw this morning about the heat in Belize right now.  April/May can often be the hottest time of year on the mainland!

Current conditions:  we are at the height of the dry season (which runs from January to May or June) and we seem to be in a plume of hot haze.  A combination, I am gathering, of Sahara Dust and dry season fires burning across the mainland, Mexico and Central America.

5000+ miles away, the vast Sahara Desert (about the same size as the country of China, about 8% of the earth’s land area) has an incredible, INCREDIBLE effect on the weather here in Belize.  Hurricanes are a big part of it. (Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30th in the Atlantic – the peak is around Sept 10th)

But this desert also sends up huge plumes of dust westward – fertilizing the oceans and even the Amazon rainforest.  It’s really quite incredible.  2020 was the largest plume in decades – called a “Godzilla plume”.  I wrote about it here in June 2020 – and posted pics like this one north of me.

Saharan dust plume June, 2020

Saharan Dust 2020

So let’s get to this week.

Very similar to that “Godzilla plume”.  It. has. been.  HAZY!

I posted this side-by-side photo yesterday – my view yesterday from my balcony vs. the normal clarity.

Sahara Dust haze

And this morning picture a few days ago.

People are reporting hazy skies from Roatan to Isla Mujeres, Mexico up to Florida.

Here is the FIRE map.  This does not mean these entire areas are on fire – it just indicates areas where fires are burning.  You can zoom in for some more perspective.  Play around with the map for more details and information – it’s super interesting.

Fires on Mainland

And you can monitor the Sahara dust plumes on this website.

All in all, I am no scientist (I think that I’ve made that abundantly clear 🙂 ) BUT I can diagnose strange weather.  And this hazy, dusty, smoky HOT weather is strange!

I’m hoping it moves out soon.  Fingers crossed.  And Happy Labour Day.  Tomorrow is a national holiday in Belize and a day to no labour.

Haze, dust and smoke or no haze, dust and smoke – Enjoy.

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