An expansion of the Sahara Desert northward into Europe. A scenario that has long been a concern raised by scientists modeling potential extreme weather and climate scenarios related to human-caused climate change. And this week, it appears that Southern and Eastern Europe are going to get a taste of Sahara Desert-type weather conditions. It’s just unfolding a bit more dramatically than scientists at first anticipated.
(Monster thunderstorm explodes over Northwestern Africa last night, hurling a huge dust storm or Haboob northward toward Europe. Image source: The Met Office.)
Last night, a massive thunderstorm large enough to cover the England, Scotland and Ireland combined blew up over western Africa. The storm, larger than most hurricanes, drew in strong, hot winds from North Africa and the Sahara Desert. These winds bore upon them a great load of dust. Dust which the strong outflow of the storm then turned northward along a frontal boundary draped across the Mediterranean toward Europe.
As of early today, a large mass of dust with a front spanning approximately 600 miles covered sections of Mali, Algeria and Niger even as strong, hot southerly winds gathered to propel it northward. Over the next three days, this dust storm, or Haboob, is expected to rage across North Africa’s Algeria and Tunesia, leap the Mediterranean, roar across Central Italy, and vent its fury on the Balkan states and Poland before finally terminating in the Ukraine.
(Large dust storm is now forecast to cross from North Africa and into Southeastern Europe. A high amplitude Jet Stream wave pattern and related strong ridge formation is providing the atmospheric slot that is propelling the dust further north than is typical. Image source: Barcelona Dust Forecast Center.)
From its origin over Northwest Africa, to its termination over the Ukraine, this anomalous dust storm is predicted to travel more than 2,500 miles. The storm will be borne by hot southerly winds. Saharan winds, some could say. And those winds will bring with them not only the choking dusts of North Africa, but also a taste of its heat.
In Sofia, Bulgaria, temperatures are expected to hit 95 (F) degrees over the next few days. In Bucharest, Romania, the mercury is expected to top 96 by Saturday. Sections of central Bulgaria are likely to see readings as high as 104 (F) by Saturday. Athens, Greece may reach 102 F temperatures on Saturday and 100 degree (F) temperatures Sunday. Further up the Balkan Peninsula, Larissa’s forecast is for 107 degree F temperatures by Saturday. All are readings in ranges about 15-20 degree Fahrenheit above average for this European region during this time of year. Record to near record hot temperatures that have more in common with typical North African climates than those usually associated with Southern Europe.
(Dust storms will travel north along a frontal boundary associated with a high amplitude wave in the Jet Stream over the next three days. To the east, sections of Southern and Eastern Europe are expected to experience record or near record heat. Image source: Pivotal Weather. Note, forecast above is in degrees Celsius for Saturday, June 18.)
Very large thunderstorms do tend to fire now and then over Africa. But the typical range is more to the south along a band that feeds into the North Atlantic Inter-tropical Convergence Zone. Over the past day, a big dip in the Jet Stream has run down from Western Europe and into North Africa. This dip created atmospheric instability that fueled the development of the massive thunderstorm and generated the strong southerly winds that are now propelling the resulting Haboob toward Europe.
As has been typical with climate change related high amplitude Jet Stream waves during recent years, the deep trough over Western Europe is encouraging a strong dipole associated ridge to form over Eastern Europe. And it is into this ridge that both the Haboob and the record heat are now rushing.
Africa-originating Haboobs and 95 to 107 degree heat blanketing large sections of Southern and Eastern Europe are not at all typical weather for mid to late June. But weather extremes associated with human-caused climate change will tend to make these kinds of North African hot air and dust storm invasions more and more likely as time progresses.
Hat tip to DT Lange
Hat tip to Spike