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Early Hurricane Lull Ending, With New Forecast for Up to 21 Storms

Last year broke the record with 30 named storms in the Atlantic, and the 2021 season has already tallied an unusually high five so far.

In June, strong winds blew across Mali and Mauritania and carried tiny bits of the Sahara over Senegal, The Gambia, and Cabo Verde. The dry air that carries the dust stops thunderstorms drifting across the Atlantic from growing into tropical storms.

In June, strong winds blew across Mali and Mauritania and carried tiny bits of the Sahara over Senegal, The Gambia, and Cabo Verde. The dry air that carries the dust stops thunderstorms drifting across the Atlantic from growing into tropical storms.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

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A quick start to the Atlantic hurricane season saw five storms form so far this year, well ahead of normal pace of a normal year, before settling into a lull that’s lasted several weeks. The conditions that created this quiet period — an annual eruption of waves of dry air and dust from the Sahara rolling out across the Atlantic from Africa to the Americas — are ending just as the traditionally hurricane-heavy month of August begins. 

The large cloud of Saharan Desert dust spent much of July meandering across the Atlantic basin, showing up on NASA satellites as a light-beige smudge spreading out from West Africa and reaching all the way to South America. While the dust itself doesn’t stops hurricanes, the dry air that carries it stops thunderstorms drifting across the Atlantic from growing into tropical storms.