Posted by: coastlinesproject | September 27, 2012

Nadine circling about aimlessly in the Atlantic. Saharan Dust continues to dampen down hurricane activity. Could this be the beginning of a decadal change?

Saharan Dust and the Tropics

There is a direct connection between the abundance of Saharan dust in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and tropical cyclone development (or lackthereof). Currently, a major dispersion of dust has spread across the majority of the tropical Atlantic and intruding as far west as south Florida.

  1. Per The Weather Channel senior meteorologist Jon Erdman, “Saharan Air Layers containing African dust squelches tropical cyclone development, due to its hot, dry, sinking nature.” Source:
  2. Recently, in late June, a major plume of dust blew off of the Saharan coast in the eastern Atlantic.
  3. NASA’s MODIS instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites captured that impressive imagery.
  4. 3 months ago
  5. Even more recently – in mid July 2012 – there is an overwhelming amount of the SAL enveloping the tropical Atlantic. This was pointed out by Jon Erdman on Twitter (@twcjerdman)
  6. TWCjerdman
    Impressive SAL (Saharan Air Layer) suppressing Atlantic dev’t…typical for this time of season (red/orange colors).
  7. splitE.jpg
    3 months ago
  8. You can find and track the latest SAL airmass analysis here(courtesy
  9. NWSSanJuan
    Showers and isolated thunderstorms with Saharan Dust moving into region. Small crafts…exercise caution across waters.
  10. The National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico pointed out on Twitter that the dust had made its way to the island commonwealth. (@NWSSanJuan)
  11. In fact, John Nelander of the Palm Beach Daily News reports that the SAL will actually have an impact across south Florida this upcoming week ahead – from possibly aiding in an increase in daily highs to hazy skies to allergic reactions.

    He says, “The Saharan Air Layer originates in western Africa and is swept over the Atlantic by winds in the upper atmosphere. When it arrives in the Caribbean, South Florida and sometimes even Texas, it creates hazy and very dry conditions. It can also cause allergic reactions in people. NWS meteorologists in Miami said Friday that next week’s SAR invasion could be “formidable” if the computer model forecasts pan out, and may combine with heat indices in South Florida in the 100-105 degree range.
  12. Read more in Beach Wars; 10,000 Years on a Barrier Beach. See Strawberry Hill tab at the top of this page.

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