Christian Living

africamatters 06/04/09

Africa's Storms, America's Hurricanes

June first was the official start of this year's Atlantic hurricane season!  Experts predict the U.S. will be hit with two or three major hurricanes this season.  Some of those storms may start where you least expect...off the coast of Africa!

Hurricans and tropical depressions are a good example of how what happens in Africa effects the lives of Americans. Many storms are spawned off the coast of Africa and make their way across the ocean, heading for the Caribbean…and then…who knows? Hopefully back out to sea.

I am not a scientist, but here's a really, really condensed version of what happens….

The monsoon storms can cause huge amounts of problems for the people of Africa - drought, floods, diseases, etc. This and much more can plague those in the path of an African monsoon. But that's sometimes not the end of the story. Sometimes the storm gets big enough and spins out in to the ocean. That's when it begins its trek over to America and the islands in the Atlantic.

An article in the Herald Tribune discusses a research study about what part the waves off of Africa play in how many of those storms hit the east coast of the U.S. It says:

"About 70 'waves' are born off the coast of Africa every season, but only about 10 to 15 of them become tropical storms or hurricanes. Among them were hurricanes Andrew and Katrina."

Did you know that NASA has been talking about starting a project that studies African storms and their effect on the U.S.? Or how about that there's a whole organization that studies African monsoons? If scientists can learn more about the birthing process for these storms, they will be able to one day predict which of these storms will make landfall on America AND how strong they will likely be. This could help save lives and property.

On a side note, did you know that African sand has actually traveled across the ocean before and created "sandstorms" in Florida? Isn't that weird?

Yet again, I realize the amazing way in which our world was made…and just how small and interconnected this planet really is.

Here are links to all sorts of resources to learn more about this process: 

Africa Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis

Earth & Sky:  "African Storms Spawn Atlantic Hurricanes"

St. Petersburg Times, 2005:  "Desert Sandstorm Heads Toward Florida"