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Massive African Dust Storm Cooling Atlantic Hurricane Odds for Early August

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:10 PM GMT on July 31, 2013

A massive dust storm that formed over the Sahara Desert early this week has now pushed out over the tropical Atlantic, and will sharply reduce the odds of tropical storm formation during the first week of August. The dust is accompanied by a large amount of dry air, which is making the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) much drier than usual this week. June and July are the peak months for dust storms in the Southwest Sahara, and this week's dust storm is a typical one for this time of year. Due in large part to all the dry and dusty air predicted to dominate the tropical Atlantic over the next seven days, none of the reliable computer models is predicting Atlantic tropical cyclone formation during the first week of August.


Figure 1. A massive dust storm moves off the coast of Africa in this MODIS image taken at 1:40 UTC July 30, 2013. Image credit: NASA.


Video 1. The predicted movement through August 3 of this week's Africam dust storm, using the NOAA NGAC aerosol model. Image credit: NOAA Visualization Laboratory.

How dust affects hurricanes
Saharan dust can affect hurricane activity in several ways:

1) Dust acts as a shield which keeps sunlight from reaching the surface. Thus, large amounts of dust can keep the sea surface temperatures up to 1°C cooler than average in the hurricane Main Development Region (MDR) from the coast of Africa to the Caribbean, providing hurricanes with less energy to form and grow. Ocean temperatures in the MDR are currently 0.7°F above average, and this anomaly should cool this week as the dust blocks sunlight.

2) The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is a layer of dry, dusty Saharan air that rides up over the low-level moist air over the tropical Atlantic. At the boundary between the SAL and low-level moist air where the trade winds blow is the trade wind inversion--a region of the atmosphere where the temperature increases with height. Since atmospheric temperature normally decreases with height, this "inversion" acts to but the brakes on any thunderstorms that try to punch through it. This happens because the air in a thunderstorm's updraft suddenly encounters a region where the updraft air is cooler and less buoyant than the surrounding air, and thus will not be able to keep moving upward. The dust in the SAL absorbs solar radiation, which heats the air in the trade wind inversion. This makes the inversion stronger, which inhibits the thunderstorms that power a hurricane.

3) Dust may also act to produce more clouds, but this effect needs much more study. If the dust particles are of the right size to serve as "condensation nuclei"--centers around which raindrops can form and grow--the dust can act to make more clouds. Thus, dust could potentially aid in the formation and intensification of hurricanes. However, if the dust acts to make more low-level clouds over the tropical Atlantic, this will reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the ocean, cooling the sea surface temperatures and discouraging hurricane formation (Kaufman et al., 2005.)


Figure 2. Map of the mean summer dust optical thickness derived from satellite measurements between 1979 and 2000. Maximum dust amounts originate in the northern Sahel (15° to 18° N) and the Sahara (18° to 22° N). The Bodele depression in Chad is also an active dust source. Image credit: Evidence of the control of summer atmospheric transport of African dust over the Atlantic by Sahel sources from TOMS satellites (1979-2000), by C. Moulin and I. Chiapello, published in January 2004 in Geophysical Research Letters.

Dust in Africa's Sahel region and Atlantic hurricane activity
The summertime dust that affects Atlantic tropical storms originates over the southwestern Sahara (18° - 22° N) and the northwestern Sahel (15° - 18° N) (Figure 3.) The dust from the Southwest Sahara stays relatively constant from year to year, but the dust from the Northwest Sahel varies significantly, so understanding this variation may be a key factor in improving our forecasts of seasonal hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The amount of dust that gets transported over the Atlantic depends on a mix of three main factors: the large scale and local scale weather patterns (windy weather transports more dust), how wet the current rainy season is (wet weather will wash out dust before it gets transported over the Atlantic), and how dry and drought-damaged the soil is. The level of drought experienced in the northwestern Sahel during the previous year is the key factor of the three in determining how much dust gets transported over the Atlantic during hurricane season, according to a January 2004 study published in Geophysical Research Letters published by C. Moulin and I. Chiapello. In 2012 (Figure 3), precipitation across the northwestern Sahel was much above average, which should result in less dust than usual over the Atlantic this fall, increasing the odds of a busy 2013 hurricane season.


Figure 3. Rainfall over the Northwest Sahel region of Africa was about 200% of average during the 2012 rainy season. The heavy rains promoted vigorous vegetation growth in 2013, resulting in less bare ground capable of generating dust. Image credit: NOAA/Climate Prediction Center.

The future of African dust: highly uncertain
A September 2013 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Joseph Prospero and Olga Mayol-Bracero, "Understanding the Transport and Impact of African Dust on the Caribbean Basin," discusses the large uncertainties on how African dust may change due to climate change. Over the past decade, there has been no clear relationship between African dust and climate indices such as rainfall in the Sahel or the El Niño/La Niña cycle, which "makes it difficult to predict how dust emissions and transport might change over the coming decades as climate changes. The problem is exacerbated by the inability of models (IPCC 2007) to agree on future rainfall trends over large areas of North Africa (including the Sahel) that are known to be major dust sources today and in the recent past."

Links
Saharan Air Layer Analysis from the University of Wisconsin

Atlantic dust forecast from the Tel-Aviv University Weather Research Center

The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) was first described in 1972, in this classic paper: Carlson, T. N., and J. M. Prospero (1972), The Large-Scale Movement of Saharan Air Outbreaks over the Northern Equatorial Atlantic, Journal of Applied Meteorology, 11(2), 283-297

Dr. Amato Evan published a study in Science magazine March 2009 showing that 69% of the increase in Atlantic sea surface temperatures over the past 26 years could be attributed to decreases in the amount of dust in the atmosphere.

Kaufman, Y. J., I. Koren, L. A. Remer, D. Rosenfeld, and Y. Rudich, 2005a: The effect of smoke, dust, and pollution aerosol on shallow cloud development over the Atlantic Ocean. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 102, 11 207–11 212.

Wang, Chunzai, Shenfu Dong, Amato T. Evan, Gregory R. Foltz, Sang-Ki Lee, 2012, Multidecadal Covariability of North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature, African Dust, Sahel Rainfall, and Atlantic Hurricanes, J. Climate, 25, 5404–5415.
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-11-00413.1

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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Quoting 1825. SecretStormNerd:


you also said it would die or go out to sea

it will go out to sea and it will form and people are ignoring me every day!! i dont like this at all!!
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Quoting 1816. Camille33:
Can i get some credit i said this could still form 2 days ago!!


you also said it would die or go out to sea
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10M winds

CLOUDINESS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE REMNANTS OF DORIAN
HAVE BECOME MORE CONCENTRATED ALONG A TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE IN THE
CENTRAL AND NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS TODAY. ALTHOUGH SURFACE PRESSURES
ARE FALLING IN THIS AREA...THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF A CLOSED
CIRCULATION. THIS DISTURBANCE IS FORECAST TO MOVE TOWARD THE
NORTHWEST AND NORTH...BRINGING CLOUDINESS...SHOWERS...AND GUSTY
WINDS TO PORTIONS OF THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS AND THE COASTAL
WATERS OF SOUTHEASTERN FLORIDA ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. AFTER
THAT...THE DISTURBANCE IS EXPECTED TO MOVE TOWARD THE
NORTH-NORTHEAST AND BECOME ASSOCIATED WITH A FRONTAL TROUGH. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...AND A LOW CHANCE...20
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS.
Link
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1823. 62901IL
ZCZC MIATWOAT ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT THU AUG 1 2013

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

1. CLOUDINESS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE REMNANTS OF DORIAN
HAVE BECOME MORE CONCENTRATED ALONG A TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE IN THE
CENTRAL AND NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS TODAY. ALTHOUGH SURFACE PRESSURES
ARE FALLING IN THIS AREA...THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF A CLOSED
CIRCULATION. THIS DISTURBANCE IS FORECAST TO MOVE TOWARD THE
NORTHWEST AND NORTH...BRINGING CLOUDINESS...SHOWERS...AND GUSTY
WINDS TO PORTIONS OF THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS AND THE COASTAL
WATERS OF SOUTHEASTERN FLORIDA ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. AFTER
THAT...THE DISTURBANCE IS EXPECTED TO MOVE TOWARD THE
NORTH-NORTHEAST AND BECOME ASSOCIATED WITH A FRONTAL TROUGH. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...AND A LOW CHANCE...20
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS.

FIVE-DAY FORMATION PROBABILITIES ARE EXPERIMENTAL IN 2013. COMMENTS
ON THE EXPERIMENTAL FORECASTS CAN BE PROVIDED AT...USE LOWER
CASE...

HTTP://WWW.NWS.NOAA.GOV/SURVEY/NWS-SURVEY.PHP?COD E=ETWO

FORECASTER AVILA/FRANKLIN
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Double 20s.
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1821. hydrus
The atmosphere is very moist.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
20%.

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT THU AUG 1 2013

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

CLOUDINESS AND THUNDERSTORMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE REMNANTS OF DORIAN
HAVE BECOME MORE CONCENTRATED ALONG A TROUGH OF LOW PRESSURE IN THE
CENTRAL AND NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS TODAY. ALTHOUGH SURFACE PRESSURES
ARE FALLING IN THIS AREA...THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF A CLOSED
CIRCULATION. THIS DISTURBANCE IS FORECAST TO MOVE TOWARD THE
NORTHWEST AND NORTH...BRINGING CLOUDINESS...SHOWERS...AND GUSTY
WINDS TO PORTIONS OF THE NORTHWESTERN BAHAMAS AND THE COASTAL
WATERS OF SOUTHEASTERN FLORIDA ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. AFTER
THAT...THE DISTURBANCE IS EXPECTED TO MOVE TOWARD THE
NORTH-NORTHEAST AND BECOME ASSOCIATED WITH A FRONTAL TROUGH. THIS
SYSTEM HAS A LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS...AND A LOW CHANCE...20
PERCENT...OF BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 5 DAYS.

&&

FIVE-DAY FORMATION PROBABILITIES ARE EXPERIMENTAL IN 2013. COMMENTS
ON THE EXPERIMENTAL FORECASTS CAN BE PROVIDED AT...USE LOWER
CASE...

HTTP://WWW.NWS.NOAA.GOV/SURVEY/NWS-SURVEY.PHP?COD E=ETWO

$$
FORECASTER AVILA/FRANKLIN

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
20% it is.
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Quoting 1811. Stoopid1:
looks like the favorable environment we noted in the SE Bahamas(thanks to a receding ridge) is aiding ex-Dorian in gaining some organization. Said ridge may also allow the blob to move a bit more north in FL.



stooopid...

just kidding!!

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1817. 62901IL
Quoting 1816. Camille33:
Can i get some credit i said this could still form 2 days ago!!

No you may not.
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Can i get some credit i said this could still form 2 days ago!!
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Fay;

Moving over FL

My apologies, can't get the gif to post for some reason.
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This may be a stretch but given that a surface circulation is developing, and is under more favorable conditions, I think this should warrant a yellow circle at 2 pm.







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Quoting 1802. JrWeathermanFL:

Very insightful....what would this blog do without you.


Probably have one less incorrect blogger. :-p
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1812. hydrus
Quoting 1808. Droab:
Not sure if there is meteorological term, but with south Fl so wet and Everglades at historical high, if it did make to the coast or inland, wouldn't the "? Blob" have energy to continue its intensification. I could be wrong with system, but didn't Wilma and some other recent systems gain strength crossing state?
When tropical systems cross South Florida under hot and saturated conditions, they do not weaken very much. If a system is intensifying while making landfall, it can keep organizing as long as it is moving at a good clip. Slow movers will not find enough energy to maintain or strengthen itself over land.
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looks like the favorable environment we noted in the SE Bahamas(thanks to a receding ridge) is aiding ex-Dorian in gaining some organization. Said ridge may also allow the blob to move a bit more north in FL.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1808. Droab:
Not sure if there is meteorological term, but with south Fl so wet and Everglades at historical high, if it did make to the coast or inland, wouldn't the "? Blob" have energy to continue its intensification. I could be wrong with system, but didn't Wilma and some other recent systems gain strength crossing state?


Not gain strength, but lost very little, Katrina could be a part of that as well.

LLC developing with ex Dorian remnants. Upper level low moving away as convective process releases latent heat pushing the upper low to the southwest. A lot of time to develop into something, probably move through the FL straights as a tropical depression.
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Quoting 1808. Droab:
Not sure if there is meteorological term, but with south Fl so wet and Everglades at historical high, if it did make to the coast or inland, wouldn't the "? Blob" have energy to continue its intensification. I could be wrong with system, but didn't Wilma and some other recent systems gain strength crossing state?


Fay did as well, formed an eye-like feature and nearly attained hurricane status over SW FL before weakening.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1808. Droab
Not sure if there is meteorological term, but with south Fl so wet and Everglades at historical high, if it did make to the coast or inland, wouldn't the "? Blob" have energy to continue its intensification. I could be wrong with system, but didn't Wilma and some other recent systems gain strength crossing state?
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1807. hydrus
Quoting 1806. TampaSpin:
The NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER will likely throw a crayon up on X-Dorian at the 2pm update.
Explain why.
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The NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER will likely throw a crayon up on X-Dorian at the 2pm update.
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Quoting 1800. SouthernIllinois:

So so true!!! best improvisational live band ever to roam the planet. Gimme any long jam of "the other one" or "dark star" live from 1969 to 1974 and that's all I need. Any live version of Scarlet Begonias from 1974...just don't get much better than that.


heck yeah!
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Quoting 1799. MississippiWx:


This is actually a totally different setup.



Indeed,


Favorable conditions across the board.
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1803. Patrap
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1791. MississippiWx:
The blob in the Bahamas is very interesting today. First of all, this would not be Dorian. Dorian's remnants and energy are most likely part of this, but this is an upper low filling in from the top down thanks to a remnant tropical system being tangled with it. Secondly, it wouldn't take much to convince me that a surface low is forming just north of Cuba in the convection. There is certainly a westerly flow to the low level clouds south of the convection. Shear has also become fairly light and upper level winds are changing from a cyclonic motion to a more neutral motion as enough latent heat has been produced in the cold core low to allow for outflow to start fanning out a bit. Interesting process and I believe the NHC will have to circle it at the TWO.


Very insightful....what would this blog do without you.
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Quoting 1799. MississippiWx:


This is actually a totally different setup.


YES IT IS..
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Quoting 1797. chrisdscane:


Hi Mississipi, lets wait and see we've seen this movie to many times the past few days.


This is actually a totally different setup.
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Quoting 1793. unknowncomic:


I'd be watching the area just South of Andros Island for a developing llc.
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Quoting 1791. MississippiWx:
The blob in the Bahamas is very interesting today. First of all, this would not be Dorian. Dorian's remnants and energy are most likely part of this, but this is an upper low filling in from the top down thanks to a remnant tropical system being tangled with it. Secondly, it wouldn't take much to convince me that a surface low is forming just north of Cuba in the convection. There is certainly a westerly flow to the low level clouds south of the convection. Shear has also become fairly light and upper level winds are changing from a cyclonic motion to a more neutral motion as enough latent heat has been produced in the cold core low to allow for outflow to start fanning out a bit. Interesting process and I believe the NHC will have to circle it at the TWO.



Hi Mississipi, lets wait and see we've seen this movie to many times the past few days.
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Quoting 1780. Walshy:
July Rainfall totals are in...15-20" here.



Where can I get a map like that for the NW Florida area?
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1795. Patrap
Temperature Mid-city NOLA

95.1 °F
Feels Like 104 °F
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
This really sucks. Just talked to my teenage son at home and he said it poured for about 30-45 minutes and we got 2.75" of rain, that's incredible! Bad part is the radar looks like things are starting to fire up to our North again and will be heading South over the same area again, this is not good. Big storms North of Pensacola again too!

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Quoting 1771. dabirds:
Same pressure as C IL - 30.00", light N wind, falling dew pt, no clouds, 84. Too bad I didn't start vacation today. Should be in Ft Walton tomorrow around this time for a few days of fun & hopefully, sun. Then a couple days in the Big Easy before heading home.

Side note: Today is the bday of a couple of my fave deceased guitar players - Tommy Bolin's 63rd & Jerry Garcia's 71st. A little Post Toastee & Sugaree in order today! Of course Vac starting, so include Shake the Devil & Friend of the Devil while at it.


Jerry Garcia was great. Still love the way he played knocking on heavens door. Grateful Dead is one of my favorites they could play better live than what you hear on a disk.

img src="">

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The blob in the Bahamas is very interesting today. First of all, this would not be Dorian. Dorian's remnants and energy are most likely part of this, but this is an upper low filling in from the top down thanks to a remnant tropical system being tangled with it. Secondly, it wouldn't take much to convince me that a surface low is forming just north of Cuba in the convection. There is certainly a westerly flow to the low level clouds south of the convection. Shear has also become fairly light and upper level winds are changing from a cyclonic motion to a more neutral motion as enough latent heat has been produced in the cold core low to allow for outflow to start fanning out a bit. Interesting process and I believe the NHC will have to circle it at the TWO.

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Quoting 1782. Patrap:


It looks like on the vapor loop, the upper low has retrograded southwestward to the NW Caribbean Sea and may be helping Ex Dorian begin to develop.
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1789. Patrap
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1773. Patrap:
Today is my Mothers Birthday, gone 10 years now.





Very sorry!!! to hear that,mine on August 12th will be 2 years!!,very hard to swallow!!.
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Quoting 1773. Patrap:
Today is my Mothers Birthday, gone 10 years now.





Sorry to hear that..Been there and done that too.
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1786. ncstorm
12z CMC creates hurricane Dorian..
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Quoting 1781. 53rdWeatherRECON:
Quote
| Ignore User

when are you going to fly into the storm?
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1784. 7544
ok iknow this might sound krazy but it looks like it may start to wrap around around andros could this surprise us all ?
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1782. Patrap
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
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1780. Walshy
July Rainfall totals are in...15-20" here.

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See how the super computer does long range.

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1778. LargoFl
ok BBL the dogs need walking LOL...........................ST. PETERSBURG --
The ongoing Bay area summer weather pattern will be in effect Thursday with hot, humid conditions and afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

According to Bay News 9 Meteorologist Juli Marquez, conditions will be partly sunny today with showers and thunderstorms anticipated. The thunderstorms could continue to be heavy at times - as they have been throughout parts of this week.

"The sea breeze will develop again today," Marquez said. "The rain chances will increase through the afternoon."

The wet conditions will extend to the evening hours with some p.m. storms anticipated.

Rain chances are 60 percent today and 50 percent Friday.

The high rain amounts are above the average in multiple Bay area communities.

"There has been some drying over the lower half of the state," Marquez said. "But there has been plenty of moisture in the Bay area that has led to all the rain and thunderstorms."

Among the areas seeing above average rainfall amounts in July: Tampa International Airport (3.12 inches above average), St. Pete-Clearwater Airport (1.52 above), Lakeland (4.44 above), Sarasota-Bradenton Airport (2.43).
Bay area rainfall totals in July
Citrus

Ozello 13.58
Inverness 14.48
Hernando 10.88
Chassahowitzka 10.06
Floral City 9.11
Holder 8.18

Hernando

Spring Hill 14.14
Brooksville 10.48
Trilby 9.10

Pasco

Loyce 11.71
Land O' Lakes 10.56
Dade City 8.78
St. Leo 8.31

Hillsborough

Odessa 13.50
Sulfur Springs 13.47
Mango 10.79
Temple Terrace 10.40
Tampa Int'l 10.19 (+3.12 above normal)
Ruskin 10.07
Lutz 8.99
Plant City 8.68
Westchase 8.30
Balm 6.75

Pinellas

Pinellas Park 10.71
Lake Tarpon 10.13
Safety Harbor 10.12
St. Petersburg Airport 8.86 (+1.52 above normal)

Polk

Lakeland 11.93 (+4.44 above normal)
Mountain Lake 11.58
Mulberry 11.02
Lake Wales 10.64
Winter Haven 8.21
Polk City 7.81

Manatee

Myakka City 15.81
Ellenton 12.89
Bradenton 11.48
Oneco 11.08
Palma Sola 10.47
Sarasota/Bradenton Airport 10.41 (+2.43 above normal)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1777. LargoFl
Quoting 1772. Hurricane1956:
Hello Largo,here like every year having fun watching the Tropics,in my opinion this feature is so close to South Florida,that I believe it will have to hit the mainland of South florida before going up North,if not if will have to do a almost 90 degree turn North from where is located now to go parallel to the coast,it my reach South Florida and go up in the middle of the State if any,I believe you mention early it might stall over South Florida??, what are your thoughts?,thanks!!.
Hi, yes its something the eastern coast of florida needs to watch tonight and tomorrow...im getting BIG boomers here now from these coastal storms on the west coast.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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