Saharan dust plays a big role in tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic. Strong winds pick up the dust from the Sahara Desert and transport it thousands of miles across the Atlantic. This layer of dust is known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL).

Tropical cyclones need specific ingredients to form, and one of them is moisture. As you would expect, the Saharan Air Layer over the Atlantic is relatively dry and contains 50% less moisture than the typical tropical air mass. This will limit any development or intensification of tropical cyclones.

Saharan dust events pick up in June and carry into mid-August. During these times, large plumes of dust are lofted into the atmosphere and carried by strong upper level winds across the Atlantic. Often, the dust reaches the U.S. coast, and it can even cause a beautiful sunset.

Watch the video above to learn more on the relationship between Saharan dust and tropical systems.