Saharan air arrives in Florida, briefly shutting down rain chances as temperatures rise
A plume of dry Saharan dust has arrived to Florida, and is briefly mitigating rain chances throughout the state. The dust, in conjunction with building high pressure, will keep sea breeze showers at bay. Daily high temperatures are expected to trend above average and heat indices should approach the lower 100s over most of the peninsula.
The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is a dry, dusty airmass that typically forms over the Saharan desert in the late spring, summer, and early fall, according to NOAA. This air can impact the weather thousands of miles away from its origin point, which is why meteorologists track its movement. This cloud of dust is substantial and can reach several miles deep in the atmosphere.
According to FPREN Meteorologist Justin Ballard, chances of rain are hovering around 30% in North Central Florida and up to 60% in the Panhandle today. But for most of the peninsula, rain chances are keeping low. Tomorrow, most of the dry air will be moving into areas north of I-4, resulting in even lower rain chances than today. The National Weather Service office in Jacksonville expects hot weather will persist early into next week, as the dry air spreads over the state.
Another result of the SAL is that any tropical development in the Atlantic will be limited. It's well documented that the dry, hot air crossing the Atlantic suppresses tropical cyclone formation and intensification. For this reason, it's expected we will not see any new tropical development for the next week.
The bad news is, anyone with allergies or other existing respiratory issues like asthma or COPD should be aware that increased dust in the atmosphere could lead to harmful respiratory symptoms. According to the American Lung Association, increased dust of any kind can provoke coughing, shortness of breath or sneezing. Anyone, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, may experience watery eyes, wheezing or coughing. Wearing a face mask outdoors may help minimize symptoms if you are experiencing any.