Saharan Dust Storms Affect Bahamian Weather

Just last night, I wondered why we haven’t had as many thunderstorms in recent days as we normally do this time of year. This morning, when I logged onto Facebook, Bahamian meteorologist Wayne Neely had posted an explanation:

Dust blows west from the Sahara Desert to North and South America.

“I have been getting a lot of calls and emails,” he wrote, “about the appearance of the ‘milky white skies’ and the red-hued appearance of the rising and setting sun over The Bahamas for the last few days. The haze is Saharan dust that has drifted more than 4,000 miles from Africa, and abnormally heavy concentrations currently are blanketing the main region of the Atlantic where storms develop.”

Wayne says that the dust outbreaks, which peak during July, reduce the occurrence of thunderstorms and showers by denying these systems of their lifeblood – heat and moisture. They also make the sky appear milky white and give the sun a noticeably red hue, especially at sunrise and sunset. (Hmmm… must remember to get outside tonight and shoot the sunset.)

“In The Bahamas, the dust is expected to remain thick, possibly for a while,” says Wayne. “It has lowered air quality from the good to moderate range. If you have extreme respiratory problems, stay inside air-conditioned facilities to minimize exposure. Anyone who works outside for any length of time also should be careful because of the combination of dust and high heat.

“Dust outbreaks occur when strong winds lift clouds of particles from the Sahara Desert. Winds or tropical waves – areas of low pressure – then push the dust west across the Atlantic. Because the Sahara has been supe rheated this year, making its surrounding atmosphere unstable, the dust outbreaks have been more frequent and expansive than usual.”

Thanks, Wayne, for the info!

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