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HomeLife InsuranceA Potential Atlantic Hurricane Is About to Clash With a Cloud of...

A Potential Atlantic Hurricane Is About to Clash With a Cloud of Saharan Dust

A cluster of thunderstorms is threatening to become the Atlantic’s next tropical storm or hurricane — if it can survive a cloud of dust from the Sahara.

The storms southwest of the Cape Verde islands have a 70% chance of strengthening into a tropical system within seven days, the US National Hurricane Center said. But to the north is a large, lobster-claw-shaped outbreak of dust and dry air from Africa’s largest desert that could sap them of their power.

The budding storm looks “to be in a fairly moisture-rich environment at the moment,” said Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University. “However, there is some dust/dry air to the north” that’s presenting a potential obstacle to their development, he said.

If the thunderstorms manage to evade the dry air and grow into a tropical storm, the system would have a good chance of nearing the Windward Islands by the weekend. That’s the gateway into the larger Caribbean Sea.

In June and July, large clouds of dust and dry air billow off the Sahara into the Atlantic. That haze, along with ocean temperatures that tend to be cooler at this time of year, would usually stifle potential storms.

But this year is different. Setting aside the current outbreak, dust levels have actually been a bit lower than normal in the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean, Klotzbach said. And abnormally hot oceans mean the region is ripe for hurricane development.

Read more: Explosive Atlantic Hurricane Season Brews With 25 Named Storms

“Environmental conditions are forecast to be unusually conducive for late June across the central and western tropical Atlantic,” and the system southwest of the Cape Verde islands is poised to strengthen, Lisa Bucci, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, wrote in a forecast.

Copyright 2024 Bloomberg.

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Hurricane

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