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08/01/2013 01:23 pm ET

Sahara Dust Cloud Crossing The Atlantic, Approaching South America (VIDEO)

South America could be getting a gritty taste of the Sahara Desert soon, from 5,000 miles away.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a stunning visualization of what's called the "Saharan Air Layer," a massive blob of dust that travels into the Northern Atlantic every 3 to 5 days when winds pick up from late spring to early fall. The dust cloud can get as large as the contiguous United States, and it's not terribly uncommon for it to make its way across the ocean.

You can see where the sand is right now here, but starting Friday and into the weekend it'll settle over northern Brazil, Venezuela, Haiti and other caribbean destinations.

Here's a taste of what it looked like from the air in 2006.

noaa

A bit of good news though, the dust cloud plays an important role in minimizing the formation of hurricanes, according to NOAA.

(h/t The Atlantic Cities)

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