Peak of Hurricane Season is Saturday, Why Has it Been So Quiet?
Louisiana residents usually go into full hurricane anxiety mode about the middle of May each year and we stay that way until the first real cold fronts of fall move through the state. Hurricanes have not been kind to Louisiana over the past few years. We've had five landfalling systems cross our coastline since 2020 and the forecast for this year was suggesting another raucous summer.
But so far the 2022 Hurricane Season has been quiet. especially when compared to the last two years and when compared to the pre-season forecast that almost all of the tropical experts were touting.
This Saturday marks the peak of the tropical season and as our friends in the Weather Lab at KATC like to call it, Louisiana Prime Time. Yet, so far so good.
As of this morning, September 9, 2022, there is one active hurricane in the tropical Atlantic basin. That's Hurricane Earl, the fifth named storm of the season. While Earl won't impact the United States coastline directly, there is cause for concern about rip currents along the Eastern Seaboard.
The National Hurricane Center is also monitoring two other tropical waves in the Atlantic Ocean. One of those waves has been given a 40% probability to strengthen into a tropical cyclone over the next five days. The other wave, which is just off the coast of Africa has been given a 20% probability to grow stronger in the next five days.
So, what's the difference between 2020, 2021, and 2022 as far as hurricane season goes?
Dust. Yeah, that stuff you hate to see on your furniture but probably is in plentiful supply on your Bible is keeping the tropics at bay. Specifically, dust from the Sahara Desert should be given credit for quelling the outbreak of tropical storms.
Winds blowing across the Sahara have infiltrated the upper and middle levels of the atmosphere with dust. When you think about dust you think "dry" and that's what this dust in the upper levels of the atmosphere is doing. It's actually stabilizing it and that makes it harder for storms to form.
The dust also limits sunlight's ability to reach the sea surface. You probably know hurricanes love warm water and across much of the tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are cooler when compared to previous tropical seasons.
So the next time you grab your bottle of Pledge and plan on knocking the dust off your armoire say thank you. Perhaps that dust came from Africa, maybe that dust helped save Louisiana's coastline from yet another tropical system. Or maybe it's just dead skin, sorry I don't mean to be gross but, that's probably closer to the truth.
Regardless, after Saturday we are on the downhill run out of hurricane season. Granted, it only takes one storm to wreck your life, we're hoping that storm won't happen this year or any year and I for one will not be dusting my house this weekend as a show of support for what dust has done for me, so far.
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