Today’s weather “wild card” will impact South Florida thunderstorms

An extensive layer of Saharan dust is wafting toward South Florida with wisps already hitting the Bahamas, forecasters said this morning.

The National Weather Service in Miami said the leading edge of the dust plume should reach South Florida today, drying out levels of the atmosphere at about 5,000 feet and affecting afternoon showers.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The dry Saharan air layer can be seen clearly heading toward Florida in this highlighted water vapor image.

The dry Saharan air layer can be seen clearly heading toward Florida in this highlighted water vapor image.

The coverage of storms today will depend on how much Saharan air makes it into the area. With enough surface moisture present, meteorologists said there will be some locally heavy rainfall and gusty winds up to 40 mph.

Read: Why it’s eerily quiet in the Atlantic after busy start to hurricane season

“The threat for strong storms today will not be as high as recent days,” Miami forecasters wrote in a morning discussion. “The wild card will be how much dry air intrudes during the afternoon which may enhance dry air entrainment in updrafts for some stronger gusy winds in the 40 to 55 mph range.”

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The biggest concern with today’s storms is lightning with the strongest rains expected in the interior and west coast of the state.

High temperatures in Palm Beach County are expected to reach 91, which is about normal for this time of year. The heat index, however, could hit 105 near Lake Okeechobee.

Sunday was the first day in 30 days where the high did not hit 90 or above. Sunday’s high reached only 87 degrees in West Palm Beach, which is 3 degrees below normal.

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Tuesday is expected to be even drier as the Saharan dust makes it further into the Peninsula.

With plenty of sunshine Tuesday, temperatures are expected to be warmer, ranging in the low 90s on the coast to mid-90s inland.

Heat advisories are possible Tuesday with 105-plus heat index temps across the interior and Gulf coast.

The heavy Saharan dust is being blamed for the lack of tropical activity in the Atlantic basin this hurricane season. But, AccuWeather hurricane expert said there may be a slight chance of something spinning up off the coast of Africa late this week.

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The National Hurricane Center said in its most recent forecast that tropical development is not expected during the next five days.

Kottlowski said the chance of a storm is a long shot.

“Any system that tries to get going over the western Atlantic late in the month and into early August will likely struggle with a vast amount of dry air and disruptive winds,” he said.

 

 

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