Undular Bore off of Africa

July 3rd, 2008 |


Jesse Ferrell highlighted an undular bore emerging off the coast of Africa this morning, as seen in the annotated 1200 UTC Meteosat-9 image above (or click here). Bores occur when impulses move underneath stable layers, exciting a series of closely-spaced lines of clouds, as shown here, for example. Bores are associated with stable air, and you can note the lack of cumuliform clouds in the vicinity of this bore as it emerges off the coast of Africa just to the north of developing Tropical Depression #2 (update: Tropical Storm Bertha). A meteorogram showing data from station GQNN (Nouakchott, Mauritania, at 18 N, 16 W) — located halfway between the mouth of the Senegal River to the south and Cape Timiris to the north, or just to the south of the east-west band of cirriform clouds that straddles the coast — shows the characteristic pressure perturbation and wind shift at 0800 UTC as the bore passed.

A loop of visible imagery shows the two bore structures moving over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The genesis of these bores appears to be in dying convection over eastern Africa. Note also the presence of von Karman vortex streets that occur in the marine clouds downwind of the Canary Islands, which Islands are at the extreme northern boundary of the image.

An interesting aspect of this case is that the bore is along the southern edge of a Saharan Air Layer (SAL) that has emerged from northern Africa and is moving east southeastward into the central Atlantic ahead of the developing Bertha. The dry air associated with this layer of air can be a significant deterrent to tropical cyclone intensification. Thus, if the storm moves to the northwest, or moves close enough to the SAL to entrain dry air, do not expect rapid strengthening. The dry air associated with the SAL is also apparent in the MIMIC TPW loop available here.

For the latest information on tropical storm Bertha, refer to the CIMSS tropical weather page or to the National Hurricane Center.