Weather

Why the Saharan dust just won’t go away and what surprising benefit it may offer

Out in the Atlantic Ocean, another round of Saharan dust is headed our way.

Forecasters say it should arrive later this week.

The dust travels westward in mid- to late summer as the prevailing winds push it across the Atlantic.

“There’s a big pulse washing up Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Tim Logan, an assistant professor in Texas A&M’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences. “The winds just drive it up the Gulf of Mexico.”

But there may be one benefit from the nasty stuff in the sky — it may prevent hurricanes.

As it blows off of Africa, the dust creates a temperature inversion. That suppresses cloud formation, which can also inhibit storm formation, meaning hurricanes are less likely to form.

“It does tend to suppress them,” Logan said.

The Texas A&M study is published in the American Meteorological Society Journal of Climate.

But don’t count on it stopping another Hurricane Harvey once it’s churning off the Texas coast.

“It doesn’t have much impact once they’ve formed,” Logan said. “They tend to take the dust along with them.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @ fwhanna

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