Tropical wave could become better organized near Yucatán later this week

A westward-moving tropical wave located a couple of hundred miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands is producing disorganized showers and thunderstorms.  According to the National Hurricane Center, environmental conditions appear conducive for slow development once the wave reaches the western Caribbean late this week.

Thanks to deep tropical moisture and this wave's influence, there's more convection over Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and nearby Caribbean waters. Similar conditions are happening off northwest Colombia, the eastern Yucatán, and the northeast Caribbean. 

Looking ahead, this tropical wave will continue its westward movement into the northwest Caribbean later this week.

"Maybe it will have a brief chance of becoming a tropical depression going into Mexico, but that would be the extent of it," said FOX 35 Meteorologist Noah Bergren. "About 20% chance of development heading into this weekend."

Convection near Mexico's coast has eased, and the Gulf of Mexico waters have actually cooled off by one to three degrees in the wake of Tropical Storm Alberto, but that will be short-lived.

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Models indicate that a large amount of Saharan dust will cross the Atlantic Ocean this week and head towards the Gulf of Mexico and Florida by next weekend.

What is the Saharan dust?

The Saharan Air Layer (SAL) is a dry and dusty air mass full of sand, dirt, and other debris that storms lift over Africa and tropical waves bring across the Atlantic. It is composed of a dry pocket of air that usually resides thousands of feet above sea level. This dry and hot air typically limits tropical development by robbing systems of the moisture needed to form.

The Saharan Air Layer is usually most active during June and July, which is why it is more difficult for tropical waves to develop in the Main Development Region of the Atlantic west of Africa. Using satellites, we can track the SAL and forecast its direction through long-range weather models.