FAY FADES OUT AS DUST DOMINATES THE TROPICS
The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay are speeding out of the Northeast and into Canada today. The remaining moisture will quickly be swept out to sea by an approaching front, and that will be that. Thankfully, Fay was moving quick enough that its impacts in Northeast were minimal in most areas.
Fay was number 6 in a parade of non-tropical systems that turned tropical enough to get a name this season, which is a freak. Is it because parts of the ocean are unusually warm, dumb luck, or something else? Science and time will tell.
The system that became Fay sat over the Southeast U.S. for days. The flow around the bottom side of that large low-pressure system put a light west wind across South Florida. That flow off the land makes it extra hot in the east-coast metro area, and it also heats up the offshore waters because there are no strong winds to stir up the ocean.
At Fowey Rocks Lighthouse, 6 ½ miles southeast of Key Biscayne on the edge of the reef that extends out from the Florida landmass, the ocean temperature has been running about 87 degrees day and night. In and around the Bahamas, the Straits of Florida south of the Keys, and the near-shore waters off the southwest coast, the water is 3 to 6 degrees above normal.
The only two things that can cool us down in the summer are thunderstorms, which pull down cool air from high in the atmosphere, and an ocean breeze. Take away the ocean breeze effect, and we really heat up, as we’ve seen this summer.
It’s going to take a pattern change to break the heat, and that may finally happen during the second half on next week.
While Saharan Dust is still the dominating factor in the atmosphere across the tropical Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico, a tropical disturbance that is now approaching the Caribbean islands is forecast to slog its way west and moisten our atmosphere late in the week.
Long-range computer forecast models bring in a decent ocean breeze with the disturbance as part of a general shift in the dominant wind direction over South Florida. Let’s hope they are right.
July is typically a quiet part of hurricane season, and the tropics are expected to stay that way through the middle of next week at least.