In Dust and Clouds Over Africa, Scientists Find Clues to How Hurricanes Form

When the dust that wafts off the Sahel and Sahara regions of Africa mixes with tropical clouds, it creates what’s known as a rainy “disturbance” in the eastern Atlantic. These disturbances are hurricanes in their youngest form, and as they travel across the ocean, they can either dissipate or grow into powerful storms.

To study these infant storms, a group of NASA scientists in September 2022 spent a month flying off the northwestern coast of Africa aboard NASA’s DC-8 research plane.  Each day, the team took off from Cabo Verde, an island nation off the west coast of Africa, logging roughly 100 hours altogether. The mission, known as the Convective Processes Experiment – Cabo Verde (CPEX-CV) released its data publicly on April 1.