Saharan Air Layer Analysis showing the large plume of Saharan Dust across the Eastern and Central Atlantic. Credit: CIMISS/SSEC/UWM
On late Saturday and throughout Sunday, some of the highest concentrations of Saharan Dust will be present in the atmosphere, according to most dust models as of Thursday evening.
Generally, the fluctuating, mild concentrations of Saharan Dust will be present on Friday, with good to moderate air quality levels across both islands. For the better part of Saturday, this will also hold true.
However, beginning after midday, concentrations of Saharan Dust will begin to rapidly increase across Trinidad and Tobago, as this concentrated plume of dust makes its way westward.
For the first time for 2019, air quality levels are forecast to be reduced to unhealthy levels solely because of Saharan Dust concentrations. Throughout the year, Saharan Dust concentrations have generally been reduced to unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the possibility of being reduced to unhealthy levels due to bushfires.
Unhealthy Air Quality Forecast
Peak concentrations are forecast on Saturday and Sunday. Models continue to indicate that moderate to high concentrations of Saharan Dust will remain in the atmosphere through the first half of next week. Concentrations will decrease as the week progresses.
Generally, PM2.5 levels (dust or particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) are forecast to remain at unhealthy levels beginning Saturday night through Tuesday of next week, at minimum.
PM10 levels (dust or particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers) are forecast to remain at unhealthy healthy for sensitive groups during the peak of the event, returning to moderate levels by the end of the forecast period.
At unhealthy levels: There will be increased aggravation of heart or lung disease. Possible premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. There will also be increased respiratory effects in the general population. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion. Everyone else should limit prolonged exertion
Related: Saharan Dust
At unhealthy for sensitive groups: There is the increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals. Aggravation of heart or lung disease and possible premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.
Larger, more concentrated plumes of Saharan dust begin to occur in April, and continue through November. This is due to stronger thunderstorms across interior Africa sending dust into the upper atmosphere.
Trinidad and Tobago won’t be the only islands affected. Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Barbados will also experience unhealthy air quality at times.
Persons with respiratory ailments are advised to take the necessary precautions, not limited to those listed below.