Saharan dust & dry air are keeping Atlantic Hurricane Season in check

While we have already seen a couple of named tropical systems in the Atlantic (Bill causing tremendous flooding issues in several states) the amount of dust and dry air streaming off of Africa is keeping most storms from developing at all. Right now, much of the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean have slightly warmer than normal ocean temperatures which would normally aid in tropical development. But there is so much dust and dry air in the atmosphere that storms are getting choked off before they even get started. Here is a look at the current Saharan Air Layer flowing off of Africa and into the Atlantic courtesy of the University of Wisconsin…

 

The red & pink areas indicate areas of significant dust. This Saharan Air Layer is located at the low to mid-levels of the atmosphere where dust can be picked up and transported by high winds that flow in off of the African Desert. This dust gets catapulted into the air and over the Atlantic… these winds can be strong enough to send this dust all the way to the Americas. Check out the dust forecast…

 

This shows dust levels possible heading into next week from the University of Athens in Greece. Notice that there is even a chunk of dust ending up in the southeastern US and the Gulf of Mexico. This will be one reason for pretty amazing sunsets, but will also help squelch any activity that tries to develop in the Gulf. While tropical systems can and do develop in high levels of dust, it is far more uncommon than under "normal" conditions.


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