West African monsoon season kicks hurricane season back in gear

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 3:03 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - After a stretch of quiet weeks, hurricane season is back. Having a lull, particularly in July and the start of August, is not unusual and a quick flip to active isn’t unusual either.

Early on in the tropical season we see a lot of development in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Then in July, the tropics go through a transition and more waves start coming off of Africa into August. Which is exactly what’s happening now, with a large tropical wave that is likely to develop in the next few days.

Also, currently in Western Africa, there are one, two, three more tropical waves developing in what’s called the West African monsoon.

West African Monsoon

The monsoon in West Africa is caused by a very similar set up to what the U.S. gets in the spring. There’s warm moist air, instead of from the Gulf in this case it’s from the Atlantic, crashing into dry northeasterly winds from the Sahara. That collision creates waves of storms that eventually work their way out into the Atlantic and become tropical waves and eventually develop into tropical systems.

Birthplace of Tropical Systems

Many tropical systems have done that over the years, think of Hurricane Ivan which started just off the coast of Africa. Even Katrina, which didn’t develop near Africa, it did start from a tropical wave that traveled from Africa and eventually developed into a storm in the Bahamas.

Active Monsoon, Active Hurricane Season

There is a big correlation between activity over Western Africa and activity that eventually becomes tropical systems. Every year as monsoon season peaks in August and September, hurricane season kicks into high gear.

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