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Saharan dust on South Florida’s doorstep

By Fabrice Pierre-Toussaint

Staff Writer for Telegraph Local | See my LinkedIn

A plume of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa will make its way by South of Florida later on. As the dust moves farther west, it should add some color to sunrises and sunsets. If the dust gets too thick, the sun becomes a fuzzball at sunset, and is unattractive. But with a thinner dust layer, we see more dramatic reds and oranges, according to local10.com.

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The dust is a regular occurrence from June to August across the tropics. The thunderstorm complexes over Africa that move into the Atlantic and become tropical disturbances the seeds of hurricanes later in the year kick up the dust. The same flow that propels the disturbances west, sometimes brings along the dust. A strong high-pressure system over the Atlantic has provided a perfectly situated river of air to create an unusually thick plume.

Scientists in Puerto Rico have calculated that the density of the dust in the air is the highest in at least 50 years.

NASA simulated the dust’s path in a special computer forecast model. It showed the core of the plume, which passed over Puerto Rico and the northeastern Caribbean islands, staying to our south and moving into the Gulf of Mexico before curving north and affecting much of the Gulf coast. 

Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the daughter system of the upper-level low that sat over the eastern U.S. all last week finally organized enough off the Northeast U.S. coast to be called a Subtropical Depression. It moved right over the warmest part of the Gulf Stream yesterday and is heading for cold water and North Atlantic oblivion. It has a little window of time today to strengthen just slightly and be called Subtropical Storm Dolly before that happens. In any case, it’s nowhere near land.

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Otherwise, nothing threatening is expected in the tropics through the weekend, at least.

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