African dust tracks across the Atlantic

Expected to reach the Gulf of Mexico next week

Red pixels indicate more certainty that dust is present measured by NASA’s Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit onboard the Aqua satellite.
Red pixels indicate more certainty that dust is present measured by NASA’s Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit onboard the Aqua satellite.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It is dust season in the Atlantic and a big plume is drifting westward. Some of it is forecast to cover South Florida and the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday or Thursday. Little if any is expected to impact those of us in northeast Florida.

Dust forecast indicates future plumes suspended in the mid-levels of the atmosphere tracking across the Atlantic and into the Gulf by Wednesday June 16.

The plume of brown colors above show where the thickest areas of dust will be next week from the middle of the Atlantic back to the African coast. Finer, less concentrated particles reach the southern United States.

This event is not as dense as the one that occurred last June when the local skies over Jacksonville and Florida experienced hazy conditions.

Vivid sunsets may show up next week, enhancing the sunrise and sunsets. Vivid skies are enhanced by the dust scattering out all but the reddest hues when the sun sits low on the horizon.

Aesthetics aside, the dry, sinking motions of the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) tend to suppress hurricane activity. Dust outbreaks typically occur every year during June and July before fading in early August, which is when hurricane frequency picks up.

The same Bermuda High that provides a steady onshore breeze typically during the Jacksonville summer also directs the dust westward.

Eventually, the transport ends late in the summer as the high shifts south and wetter tropical waves moving off of Africa rinse out the air.


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