The life of a storm rider was like that of many in emergency services: lots of boredom with a few intense moments of panic. Fortunately, to be on call mean I just had to have the means to get back to the plain states in a matter of minutes. I had decided to do a little traveling, and now sat on a high, cirrus cloud, barely more than a wisp in the upper atmosphere, and looked down at the dust plume.
I was over the western coast of Africa. Large winds had moved over the continent, picking up dust that created a giant plume that, had it swung south, would have brushed Brazil. The prevailing winds sent it north, though, as they always did. In a few days, it would disperse enough to cover most of the Caribbean in a light haze, and save a few Floridians from a worse sunburn.
I had been in a couple of dust storms, before, but they were small things. The scope of the dust plume was bigger than many hurricanes, and if the winds kept up, there might be a dust path all the way from Africa to North America. That was all good in theory, but seeing it in-person above the planet, it was awe-inspiring and calming.
I sat for hours watching the wind and the dust crawl across the ocean.