Talking the Tropics With Mike: Saharan dust thins over U.S. as next surge moves west from Africa

T'Storms over the NW Gulf of Mexico

Talking the Tropics With Mike: Saharan dust thins over U.S. as next surge moves west from Africa

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Thunderstorm activity persists over the far Western & Northwest Gulf of Mexico in association with an upper level trough but no surface (low pressure) development is expected.

And a couple of tropical waves have emerged off the coast of Africa over the Central & Eastern Atlantic just south of the main plume of dust. No immediate development but something to keep an eye on next week & beyond once into or near the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile... the first cloud of Saharan dust (5th image below) has spread over the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico & into the Southeast U.S. while gradually thinning/mixing out. Some of the dust has spread east as it encounters a sagging jet stream over the U.S. so some haze for Jacksonville & surrounding areas through the weekend.

A second surge of dust is over much of the Eastern Atlantic & will also travel west in the coming days. The recent dust “activity” is large - perhaps the most extensive in years - but dust clouds as a whole are quite typical for June & July & is indicative of generally dry mid & upper level air which can often times inhibit tropical development. However, I’ve seen tropical systems thrive just outside the dust cloud ... or once away from the dusty atmosphere (see 2004)... so it’s not a “shoe in” that there will be no tropical development just because a lot of dust exists (see Dolly this week & Dorian last year). Other factors have to be considered such as the overall shear values across the Atlantic Basin, general vertical motion values & sea surface temps. which are nowhere near their seasonal peak yet.

Atlantic dust:

2020 names..... “Edouard” is next on the Atlantic list (names are picked at random by the World Meteorological Organization... repeat every 6 years... historic storms are retired (Florence & Michael last year) & Dorian is certain to be retired from the ’19 list....

East Atlantic:

Mid & upper level wind shear (enemy of tropical cyclones) analysis (CIMMS). The red lines indicate strong shear of which there is plenty across most of the Atlantic at the moment:

Water vapor imagery (dark blue indicates dry air):

Deep oceanic heat content is extreme over the NW Caribbean:

Sea surface temp. anomalies:

SE U.S. surface map:

Surface analysis centered on the tropical Atlantic:

Surface analysis of the Gulf:


Global tropical activity: