Saharan influence to keep tropical Atlantic quiet

Saharan Air Layer

Saharan Air Layer

This part of the hurricane season is typically very quiet and for good reason. It is during this portion of the year that we see the strongest of what are called “SAL” outbreaks. SAL stands for Saharan Air Layer and it is a the equivalent to spraying Raid on insects: it kills hurricanes.

The reason is simple. The low to mid level dry air originates from the Sahara and North Africa. Often times the SAL is populated with fine dust and other suspended particles such as sand. This acts to squash any chances of tropical convection and moves generally westward, eventually reaching the Caribbean and even the United States.

During especially strong SAL outbreaks that end up moving in to the Southeast, the result is often an incredible sunset for a few days as the dust filters out just enough sunlight to create a brilliant deep orange to red glow. It is also not uncommon for dust to collect on car windshields.

The good thing about SAL is that it means no hurricanes. With a strong layer of dry, stable air, there is absolutely no chance of development in the tropical Atlantic; not until the environment moistens up. This usually begins to happen around the second week of August. If the SAL outbreaks continue past that time period, then we may start to wonder about whether or not there will be much of a hurricane season left. However, I would bet that this is yet another typical July SAL event and a month from now, we’ll be talking about the potential for development across the same region that is so hostile right now.

Until then, enjoy the quiet, and perhaps the brilliant sunsets, courtesy of SAL.

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About Mark Sudduth

Greetings! I am Mark Sudduth, the founder and editor of The site began in 1999 as a way to post info concerning tropical storms and hurricanes for any interested visitors. Little did I know how big it would become in the years since. Now, we have millions of visitors from all over the world who have come to rely on the site as a no non-sense, tell it like it is resource for all things hurricane related. We are supported by a combination of corporate sponsors and our loyal Client Services members who subscribe to premium content on our sister site, I am married with six energetic and intelligent children and live in southeast North Carolina. I graduated UNC-Wilmington in 1995 with a BA in Geography and have studied the effects of hurricanes on our society ever since.

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