MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The tropics have been quiet over the last several weeks. The reason why lies an ocean away.
The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season got off to a quick start early on but, it has been quiet over the past few weeks. The reason for this is because of dust from the Saharan Desert in Africa.
Saharan Dust Layer on 7/12/2016. Photo Credit: NASA
The dust can be a good thing for us along the coast as it inhibits the development of tropical systems in several ways.
Dust layer associated with the Saharan Air Layer northeast of Barbados in 2006. Photo credit: Jason Dunion NOAA/HRD.
Saharan dust and dry air create sinking air around thunderstorms, which weakens storms and can prevent the development of new storms. The strong winds associated to the dust layer can tear apart tropical systems and create a hostile environment for new systems. It is not yet clear what effect the dust has on tropical cyclone intensity, although according to NOAA, there are some recent studies have suggested that it can actually impact the formation of clouds.