Saharan Dust South of Bermuda


Preliminary, Non-operational GOES-16 imagery from RAMMB/CIRA shows a plume of dust several hundred miles south of Bermuda this morning. Over the Sahara Desert across Northern Africa, dust is suspended by strong winds. It’s then transported westwards across the Atlantic around the southern periphery of the Bermuda-Azores high.

The dust is accompanied by a warm dry layer of air above the surface known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL). This makes the lower atmosphere stable, trapping clouds and moisture in a shallow layer below. It has been shown that this hinders the development of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic as they entrain this dry and stable air and subsequently struggle to maintain deep convection.

Some dust from this plume is expected to reach Bermuda in the coming days. It is not uncommon for decaying dust plumes to reach Bermuda during the summer months. This typically results in hazy skies and sometimes bits of dust can be washed out in any rain showers.

[See NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division for more on SAL]



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