|Morning sprinkles evaporated, leaving these dust spots on Carissa H.'s car (@rissa424)|
Sure enough, after a little digging and checking in with the NWS to get their opinion, I'm fairly confident that it is indeed dust from the plains. For the past few days, strong and gusty north wind has prompted dust storms across the central and southern plains. In fact, the NWS watch/warning map below shows Wind Advisories and High Wind/Dust Storm Warnings in effect right now across the plains.
Then, I got a text from a family member who happens to be on the interstate in the TX panhandle describing vicious wind and "raining mud!" Sure enough, dust storms were in progress and light rain was dropping the dirt back to earth! Dust storms are known to eject fine dust particles thousands of feet into the air where they are carried by the currents downstream. Below is the current upper level (about 35,000') jet stream courtesy of an awesome animated web tool called the "Wind Map." The large L is the low pressure trough that the jetstream wind is flowing around. Key points are labelled.
So you can see that as the dust is picked up and ejected into the upper levels of the atmosphere, it gets carried downstream and deposited or rained out of the atmosphere! The light rain falling this afternoon is not going to be good at washing pollen off your car, but instead could result in a trip to the car wash thanks to strong wind and plains dust that is transported all the way to Tennessee!
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