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Will Saharan dust hamper the Atlantic tropical season?

The hurricane forecasters at Colorado State University released an updated seasonal hurricane forecast for the Atlantic basin this week, and it shows that that they have increased the number of named storms by one from their earlier forecast.  They are now forecasting 15 named storms, the most since 2012. They are also predicting 6 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes.  You can watch a video story and read more about it here.  Note that there are no predictions for how many, if any, of these storms will make landfall or where they might hit.

One confounding factor in hurricane development is the presence of Saharan dust blowing off of western Africa.  The dust shades the water and cools it, making hurricane formation less likely.  In previous seasons the accuracy of the forecast has been reduced in years with a lot of dust.  On June 19, NASA’s Earth Observatory noted that a lot of dust was coming off of Africa this year, and that may be a factor in the number of storms we actually see.  You can read the NASA story at  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=88251&src=twitter-nh.

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