saharan dust

Dry, Dusty Air From The Saharan Desert Is Coming to South Florida – What Does This Mean?

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A wave of dry, dusty air from the Saharan Desert is coming to South Florida — and meteorologists say it can suppress storms brewing in the Atlantic.

The Saharan Air Layer, or SAL, is not a new phenomenon. The mass of sand, dust, and dry air usually forms in Africa during the late spring to early fall, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Occasionally, the global wind pattern will pull some of the build-up all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, into the Caribbean and sometimes into South Florida.

That’s what will happen this week, as the SAL makes its way over to the Sunshine State.

The thick plumes of dry, dusty air - expected to arrive in South Florida Tuesday -  is expected to lower rain chances, as well as produce a milky, hazy sunshine.

The SAL also makes it hard for storms to form, both on-land and in the ocean. 

“The warmth, dryness, and strong winds associated with the Saharan Air Layer have been shown to suppress tropical cyclone formation and intensification,” according to the NOAA.

SAL activity generally ramps up from late June to mid-August, the NOAA says. 

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