Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Hurricanes: No match for dust?

Remnants of Dorian hang on, but cloud of dust quieting tropics.

Hurricanes: No match for dust?

A massive dust storm swirled off the Sahara on Wednesday, and headed east across the Atlantic, filling the air with tiny ultra-dry particles.

If you live or own property along the U.S. East Coast or in the Caribbean, the storm news doesn’t get much better.

Such storms enhance the impacts of the so-called Saharan Air Layer, or SAL, which consists of tiny, bone-dry aeresols that migrate en masse  near tropical-storm formation zones, 5,000 to 20,000 feet in the atmosphere.

The interactions are complex, but research has documented that  SAL has an inhibiting effect on tropical storms.

Even as we write, a wave off Cape Verde is struggling with SAL, and losing, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Intuitively, dry air is wolf bane to an incipient hurricane, but in his blog the other day, Jeff Masters, meteorologist at the popular Weather Underground site, noted another possible factor.

The dust veil could cool sea-surface temperatures by veiling the sun, and warm water is a life-blood of hurricanes.

Although the remnants of Dorian, off the Florida coast, has a chance  to re-group into a tropical storm , no hurricane threats are on the horizon.

The season tends to pick up in mid-August, but for now, enjoy the lull.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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