Saharan Dust Waves Continue to Stifle Storm Development as Month Three of Hurricane Season Begins
Florida - Thursday August 4, 2022: Forecasters are expecting another big Saharan Dust wave to arrive over Florida in the coming week from Africa. It’s the latest in a number of strong dust waves this summer that have helped keep a lid on tropical storm development.
Dr. Jason Dunion is a University of Miami hurricane researcher working with NOAA’s Atlantic Meteorological Laboratory. He’s an expert on what’s called the Saharan Air Layer. He tracks the Saharan Dust clouds that blow our way every year.
“We’ve noticed that a few of the outbreaks have been much dustier than normal. So, a little bit less dusty overall, but they are definitely coming across the Atlantic fast and furious, and even this week we’re tracking a couple of very large outbreaks. They look like they’re going to be reaching the United States sometime over the weekend and early next week, and we’re going to expect to see a very dusty outbreak early next week.”
Saharan Dust waves travel about a mile above the surface says Dunion and the air is extremely dry and hot and the winds are strong.
“That kind of trifecta of temperature, moisture and the winds can work to stifle hurricanes, and it can even work to stifle clouds that form. We call it an African Easterly Jet. There is a jet of air, within that layer, of 30, 40, 50 MPH, that increases the vertical wind shear. The winds become very hostile and can rip the storms and clouds apart. And some folks are even suggesting that the dust itself could effect how clouds form and how water droplets form.”
By the middle of August, says Dunion, the Saharan dust waves tend to taper off. That’s when peak storm season begins.
Read more about the Saharan Air Layer on the NOAA website HERE: https://www.aoml.noaa.gov/news/what-is-the-saharan-air-layer/