SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - Just when you thought we had seen the last of the Saharan dust...IT RETURNS!
Right now dust is causing hazy conditions across Southern Florida. The picture to the left courtesy of Paul Dellegatto at Fox 13 in Tampa shows the skyline with a smaller amount of dust. To quantify the amount, the current amount of dust over Southern Florida is a light blue color, which is a lower concentration compared to the brighter yellow color to the southeast of Florida.
Forecasts are expecting dust to reach Southwest Louisiana by this weekend and we are expecting concentrations higher than that seen in Florida. The forecast map to the left for Sunday is showing us as purple. This means that we could see hazier skies than what Tampa is experiencing right now.
But, we do have weather forecast that would help decrease dust just a little bit going into this weekend. The weekend forecast is showing rain chances at 60% for Friday and Saturday. This rain could be just the thing we need to help improve air quality. If we do see enough rain, it could help to knock some of that dust out of the air before we get back into a drier pattern. The only thing is the timing of the dust and the rain, which would have to occur at roughly the same time. Unfortunately, the bulk of the shower activity is expected Friday and Saturday before the dust is forecast to reach us. The dust, expected Sunday, would get here after the main chances of rain. We do have a chance for rain on Sunday, less than the previous days, but it could help.
Airnow.gov, a website that forecasts air quality courtesy of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, does not produce an extended forecast. This means they do not have a forecast for Sunday, yet. As we get closer to the time of this dust plume, airnow.gov is a good resource to use if you are sensitive to pollutants in the air. Just select our state and it will produce reports and forecast conditions from across Louisiana.
How does this dust impact the tropics? Well, it means tropical development is going to remain low. The dust causes the air to be drier which is the opposite of what is needed for tropical development. In addition to this new plume of dust making its way towards the Gulf of Mexico, we have seen multiple plumes like this since the start of the summer. This has hindered the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface of the Atlantic Ocean which has kept sea surface temperatures cooler than normal. Right now sea surface temperatures beneath this dust is roughly between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, to produce a tropical system water temperatures need to be closer to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. With these two factors being so important to tropical development it is no wonder we haven't seen many tropical systems this season.
If you would like to view the original Facebook post from Paul Dellegatto check out this link.