TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — We’re officially a month away from the peak of hurricane season but, aside from a tropical wave with low development chances, the tropics remain quiet.
One of the reason things are still so quiet is Saharan dust plumes that continue to move off the coast of Africa. Those plumes are also helping limit formation chances for the tropical wave being monitored.
“The NHC is really limiting this chance of development because that Saharan dust is keeping it at bay – it’s not allowing it to organize,” Meteorologist Amanda Holly said. “So we’re not worried about that for now.”
The dry dust that originates from the Sahara Desert helps keep the tropics quiet because tropical systems need moisture to form and strengthen. The winds that push the dust across the Atlantic also help limit organization of tropical systems.
We typically see Saharan dust plumes in May, June and into July before they start to subside. Once the dust subsides is when we usually see an uptick in tropical activity, as we get closer to the statistical peak of hurricane season on Sept. 10.
This year, however, we’ve still been seeing plumes move off of Africa through the first weeks of August.
“The Saharan dust has been very thick for us for this time of the year. This looks more like a June Saharan dust plume than an August Saharan dust plume,” Meteorologist Rebecca Barry said of one of the plumes currently seen on satellite.
So is it uncommon to see healthy plumes this late in the season, and is it something we should expect every year?
Barry says this much Saharan dust in the Atlantic right now is unusual, but not impossible.
“It’s certainly late in the season compared to our normal patterns,” she said. “I would not expect this to be considered standard moving forward, but more likely an anomaly.”