Saharan Dust

NASA Satelite Image

NASA Satelite Image

If you’ve ever been in the Caribbean on a hazy day, you might have heard the term Saharan Dust (aka Sahara Dust, aka Saharan Air Layer, aka SAL.) It sounds like a B.S. excuse for the haze. Really? Desert storms in Africa lifting dust 15,000 feet into the air, dust traveling over 3000 miles across the Atlantic and causing poor visibility in the Virgin Islands. Seriously?

Yep. And there is a big one kicking out from Africa today. The above image from NASA shows it already reaching out to the Canary Islands. In a few days I’ll be able to run a white gloved finger along Deja Blue’s deck and come up with a very fine layer of golden brown dust. It covers everything and rain showers just make the boats and cars dirtier.

This summer, NASA is conducting an extensive study (lasting 5 years) about the dust and whether or not it causes or prevents hurricanes. The confusion stems from the following: The dust prevents cloud development which is thought to inhibit tropical cyclone formation. The dust also acts as a weather front stirring up the waters below it which is a needed element in tropical cyclone formation. The study hopes to gain a better understanding of exactly what role Saharan Dust plays in the formation and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes.

Wishing everyone a mild and safe H-Season.

-Capt Wilson




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