Beyond the towering storms, the dull gray-brown pall of a dust plume is draped across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The haze is so dense that it completely obscures the island of Cuba from the astronaut’s view. This huge dust mass had been lofted ten days earlier from the vast sandy surfaces of the western Sahara Desert. The dust plume stretched across the Atlantic Ocean from northwestern Africa, a distance of more than 7000 kilometers (4,200 miles). In 1994 and 2001 astronauts took photographs of less dense Saharan dust plumes over the same region.