Resurgence in Saharan dust expected; dust may delay tropical storm formation

Resurgence in Saharan dust expected; dust may delay tropical storm formation

(GIS/PO) — A 6 a.m. weather report by the Saint Lucia Met. Services has predicted that the region can expect more Saharan dust by tomorrow.

The recent rains caused by a tropical wave have lowered the current concentrations of dust in the air, as raindrops bind with dust particles on the way down. However, the Saint Lucia Met. Services stated, this morning, that another plume of dust can be expected in the wake of the rains.

The weather report stated that a tropical wave located to the east of the Lesser Antilles is moving westward. “This wave is expected to cause cloudiness, showers, and isolated thunderstorms over the Eastern Caribbean region during the next 24 hours. A large plume of Saharan dust trails this tropical wave and as a result, a resurgence in dust concentrations over the region is expected,” the report stated, adding that tropical cyclone formation is not expected over the tropical Atlantic during the next five days.

The Saharan Air Layer has a peculiar effect on weather patterns. The Saint Lucia Met. Office said Saharan dust causes reduced visibility, poor air quality, and suppressed shower activity.

The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), explained that the hot, dry, and dusty air layer “sits directly above cooler and more humid air over the Atlantic Ocean, and puts a stop to any thunderstorms that may develop in the moist layer beneath it. It can temporarily suppress hurricane formation or keep storms that have formed from potentially getting stronger.” As such, hurricane seasons with frequent Saharan dust events tend to develop fewer storms.

Scientists at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) say such dust storms have three main components that prevent storm formation—dry air in the middle parts of the atmosphere, a mid-level easterly jet that can rip a storm apart, and the dust which suppresses cloud formation.

And if the phenomenon of the Saharan Air Layer seems much more extreme this year, it may be due to climate change. explains that “the sudden increase in dust emissions is partly a consequence of a fast decline of vegetation cover and the rapid replacement of shrubs by grasses.” Additionally, as water bodies like lakes get smaller, the areas previously covered by water also turn into dust sources which result in accelerated dust release.


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