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Saharan Air Layer...What is it?

Saharan Air Layer...What is it?
Posted at 10:08 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 20:10:24-04

You probably hear about us taking about Saharan Dust often in our weathercasts. Saharan dust outbreaks are important in tropical weather forecasting. When large amounts of Saharan Dust make their way across the Atlantic, it not only dries out the upper atmosphere, but the dust can actually block incoming solar radiation and cause water temperatures to be cooler. Temperatures aloft are warmer leading to decreased instability and less of an ability for the atmosphere to produce thunderstorms. These factors combined act to inhibit tropical development.

We often call it the SAL or Saharan Air Layer and it is something that is fairly common throughout the hurricane season. SAL is typically a depth of 2 to 2.5 miles. The base is around a mile above the surface. It contains dust, dry air and is quite warm.

SAL tends to be more widespread earlier in the season, then starts to abate from August through the rest of the season. The Saharan Air Layer will often lead to beautiful sunsets in southwest Florida when they reach our area.