The Sahara dust storm has reached the US mainland. Here’s what it looks like. – USA TODAY

A huge plume of dust and sand, blown by the wind from the Sahara Desert, has finally reached the U.S. mainland.

It’s one of the most significant Saharan dust events in decades, forecasters said. 

The densest plume of dust began to emerge off western Africa last weekend and has now moved into the Gulf of Mexico and the South, the Weather Channel said.

The mass of extremely dry and dusty air known as the Saharan Air Layer forms over the Sahara Desert and moves across the North Atlantic every three to five days from late spring to early fall, peaking in late June to mid-August, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

It can occupy a roughly 2-mile thick layer in the atmosphere, the agency said.

“The main impacts of the Saharan dust are a whitening of the sky during daylight hours, redder sunsets, and decreased air quality,” the National Weather Service said.

Here are a few images from social media of the dust as it settled over the southern U.S.:

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