Dry, dusty air is on its way to the Southeast
By: Charles Roop | WCTV Pinpoint Weather
June 18, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Someone is missing the rains down in Africa, leaving a lot of dust that will move into the Atlantic and the Southeast next week.
The mass of dry, dusty air is called the Saharan Air Layer, or SAL. It originates in the Saharan Desert in Africa during the late spring, summer and early fall months, according to NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Sometimes outbreaks of the air layer, which can occupy about a two-mile thick layer of the lower atmosphere and have 50% less moisture than typical tropical air, can push through the Atlantic Ocean and move far enough west as the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico regions. The air layer can even hit Texas, according to the AOML.
The dust and dry air can do a few things with respect to our weather and health. The biggest impact is fewer and weaker tropical cyclones in the Atlantic. The SAL usually accompanies higher winds in the mid levels of the atmosphere, adding wind shear to the region. If a tropical system was in the vicinity of the SAL, the wind shear would not only rip the storm apart, but also add dry air into the system.
The SAL’s dust can also have impacts on people’s health. Those who have respiratory issues such as asthma can have issues with any dust that makes its way to the surface.
Another impact is benign, but nice: Prettier sunsets. The dust would make they sky appear more hazy, but would make the sunsets a little more red.
Models are expecting this plume of dust to continue its trek through the central and western Atlantic this weekend and get into the Caribbean Sea by Monday. Then the dust is expected to swing northward around the western side of the Bermuda High and make its way into the Southeast mid to late next week.
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