The dust came, but why?

NOAA satellite picture of Saharan Dust

It came, it saw, it conquered! The Saharan Dust ruled the sky over the weekend. Check out this Click2pin from M&M:

Saharan sunset - Willow Fork Park, Cinco Ranch.

Brace your sinuses, more dust is on the way Wednesday. Below is a look at the current Saharan Air Layer showing light dust in the Caribbean (that’s what is coming) with more dust (the pink) coming off the continent.

Latest Saharan Dust satellite

Why is it happening?

So WHY is this such a banner year for Saharan dust? Because it’s a banner year for sub-Saharan storms. Those storms that cross Africa create winds that blow the Saharan dust into the Atlantic. And there are a lot of them. Take a look at this morning’s satellite pic of the storms crossing Africa.

Storms crossing Africa move dust into the Atlantic

In fact, the past two months have been the wettest for this region on record, as Eric Webb noted in a recent tweet saying “N Africa is still running the wettest the May-June on record by a very wide margin this year.” Just click on the tweet to expand that map and graph.

All that green reveals the wet weather that’s been moving across the continent from the Indian Ocean. And take note, when the dust settles in a month (and it will), those storms will exit Africa without the inhibition of the dry air. Those are what become the seeds for Cape Verde hurricanes that cross the Atlantic.


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.