Published On: Fri, Aug 16th, 2019

Hurricane warning: Is Atlantic hurricane season about to kick off as Sahara dust vanishes? | World | News

Only one powerful storm has come out of 2019’s hurricane season so far. Hurricane Barry caused extensive damage when it hit Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane. Since Barry, things have been quieter across the oceans – but there are clues this might yet change.

While the hurricane season extends from June 1 through to November 30, the period from the last weeks August through to October marks the prime time for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin.

The sharpest increase in activity usually comes between August 20 and September 11.

Accuweather meteorologists are monitoring changing conditions in the Atlantic basin which could see an increase in tropical activity in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: Hurricane tracker: ‘Prepare your family’ Peak of hurricane season

Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said: “Indications are that inhibiting factors for tropical development, such as dry air, dust and strong wind shear over the Atlantic basin will start to relax during the week of August 18 to 25.”

Flare-ups of Saharan dust drifting over from Africa have been seen in recent weeks.

While this isn’t unusual for summer, it’s now time when moist air becomes more plentiful and the amount of dust and wind shear begin to diminish: perfect for building hurricanes.

Tropical disturbances, or waves, move off the coast of Africa every few days during the summer and into the autumn.

While waters are sufficiently warm enough to support development in this area from midsummer on, the dry air, dust and wind shear keep most of these disturbances from developing into tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.

Mr Kottlowski said: “How fast these inhibiting factors relax next week will determine if and when a particular disturbance develops.”

Wind shear can vary significantly from day to day and shift over time as a budding tropical system approaches.

The disturbance will continue to drift westward across the tropical Atlantic in the coming days.

Steering breezes are likely to cause these features to turn more to the northwest and north as they near Central America.

Such a pattern may allow the feature to travel from the northwestern Caribbean, across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, into the western Gulf of Mexico and toward the western or northern Gulf coast to end next week.

Mr Kottlowski said: “If the wind shear drops off in the northwestern Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico, the door may open for development later next week.”

Waters are sufficiently warm in the region to support development should the shear ease up.

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