It is thanks to a significant area of Saharan dust that is seen in satellite images flying over the west coast of Africa. Forecast models show dust moving through the tropics, major areas of tropical development, and into the Gulf of Mexico for this week next …
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It is thanks to a significant area of Saharan dust that is seen in satellite images flying over the west coast of Africa.
Forecast models show dust moving through the tropics, major areas of tropical development, and into the Gulf of Mexico for this week next week.
That means it will travel more than 5,000 miles, says CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.
“Large columns of Saharan dust routinely track in the Atlantic Ocean from late spring to early fall,” she says. “Occasionally, when the dust plume is large enough and the trade winds are properly established, the dust can travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic and into the United States.”
Although dust is a visible indication that there will be little or no tropical development, it is not the main reason why a tropical system will not form when present.
“Dust is the visible part of the area of reduced tropical development potential,” explains CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. “Dry air and additional vertical wind shear along with dust are the factors driving the limitation of tropical storm development.”
Vertical wind shear is the change in wind speed and direction with height. For a hurricane to form, it needs little or no wind shear and a very humid atmosphere.
So for next week, don’t expect the Atlantic to see its fourth named storm. Instead, by this time next week, people living and visiting the Caribbean and Gulf Coast beaches will encounter spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
When dust like this travels across the ocean, “dust particles high in the atmosphere can scatter sunlight and create some of the most vivid sunsets,” says Brink.