Pat Shingleton: "Dust In the Wind..."
Today, the Hurricane Center in Miami will upgrade an area near the Yucatan that will enter the Gulf as a Tropical Depression. This system could increase our shower activity this weekend. Another ingredient in the development of tropical storms is dust and every year, storms over West Africa transport particles into the Atlantic. As noted in a previous column, atmospheric scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison verify that the African dust affects ocean temperature. The dust cools the ocean by decreasing sunlight as it reaches the water. Large quantities of dust blowing off of Africa in the 1980s and '90s cooled the Atlantic while fewer dust storms resulted in devastating hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005. Numerous Atlantic hurricane seasons were cooler and quieter due to increased dust.