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How Saharan Dust Impacts Hurricanes & Tropical Storms in Florida

Posted by Jimmy Hawley on Aug 16, 2022 12:22:26 PM

When you think about dust storms,  Florida typically isn’t the first location that comes to mind.  However, during the summer months, Saharan dust starts to make its way across the ocean to South Florida, bringing warmer temperatures, hazy skies, and dry air.

The Saharan dust in South Florida also plays a big role in the development of hurricanes during the tropical season. Here's what you need to know about how Saharan dust impacts hurricane season in Florida. 


What is Saharan Dust?

Saharan dust is a mixture of sand and dust that comes from the Sahara desert. It is earth's largest source of airborne dust, with nearly 180 million tons being transported from Africa to the US annually.

The strong winds in Africa pick up Sahara dust from the region and carry it all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to Florida. Depending on the strength of the winds, the dryness in Africa, and other factors, there is more dust during some hurricane seasons than others.

Typically, the dust ramps up in the middle of June, peaks between late June and the middle of August, and then subsides. 


How Does Saharan Dust Impact the Weather?

Saharan dust plays a big role in the weather, especially in areas like South Florida.  Meteorologists have linked Sahara dust to hazy skies, stunning sunsets, and a lower amount of rainfall. However, those are not the only ways it can affect the weather in the region.

Saharan Dust Pauses Hurricane Activity

Sahara dust in Florida is actually a good thing for hurricane season. It's very common to see a lull in storm activity when there is Saharan dust present in the air. The Saharan dust tropical storm link is important to understand, as it helps recognize when there is more risk of tropical weather.

When Saharan dust reaches Florida, it creates drier air and reduced sunlight, limiting the chance of hurricane formation. This is because a hurricane requires moisture and warm waters in order to form and get stronger. Without moisture and direct sunlight to warm the waters of the ocean, hurricanes struggle to develop. 


The Dust Will Settle

While Saharan dust provides a pause in Hurricane activity during the summer months, the dust will eventually settle, and hurricane activity will resume. As the dust dissipates, tropical waves will begin to strengthen and there will be an increased risk for storms and hurricanes. The peak of the hurricane season is September 10th, which suggests that there are more storms after the peak of Saharan Dust activity.

In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that there will be a 65% chance of hurricane activity that is above normal. Roughly two-thirds of all the tropical systems seen in South Florida form in either August or September. It's important to note, though, that South Florida has historically seen more hurricanes in October than in any other month.

October ranks as the most active month across the region when it comes to the number and strength of hurricanes. Many people who are unfamiliar with Florida's weather patterns mistakenly think that storms aren't likely as we head toward the end of the tropical season, but that's actually not the case. Over the past several years, some of the biggest and deadliest storms have occurred in October. These include:

  • Wilma
  • Sandy
  • Michael

These storms took lives, destroyed property, and caused millions of dollars in damage that has taken years to repair. The Saharan dust that South Florida experiences every year is only a temporary deterrent for hurricanes and tropical storms. 


Prepare for Peak Hurricane Season

Before the Saharan dust settles out and hurricane activity increases in Southwest Florida is the best time to consider how you want to protect your home and property from late-season hurricanes.

Much of the property damage associated with hurricanes comes from rain entering through broken windows and doors. Preparing early, before a hurricane arrives, is the best way to manage the impact of the high winds and flooding that can come along with tropical weather.

At Storm Solutions, we're here to ensure that you're as prepared as possible for tropical weather all throughout hurricane season. Our impact windows, doors, and hurricane shutters can help keep you and your family safe from violent storms and hurricanes. Contact us today to safeguard your home throughout the tropical season and beyond.Hurricane Guide

Topics: Hurricane Protection, Hurricane Preparedness, Hurricane, Saharan dust

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