No Major Surges of Saharan Dust Forecast For T&T Over Next 7 Days

After a dusty start to February, no major surges of Saharan Dust is forecast to affect T&T over the next 7 days. A significant surge of dust will be moving off the African coast this week, but much of the higher concentrations are forecast to remain out at sea or move into South America.

For now, across the country, air quality is at good levels with visibility at 10 kilometers as of 7:00 AM Sunday 7th February 2021.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) air quality monitoring stations are recording AQI values at levels that are good in Trinidad and Tobago based on PM2.5 (particulates the size of 2.5 micrometers and smaller, usually associated with increases in Saharan Dust, vehicle exhaust, and smoke) and PM10 particulates.

The Saharan Dust Forecast

Through the week, Saharan Dust concentrations will gradually diminish, with very mild concentrations present as the dust won’t entirely go away.

Our chances for dust increase next weekend, where a mild surge of Saharan Dust may move across the Southern Windwards/ This will not be a significant surge.

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago will vary between good to moderate levels, particularly in areas where high traffic or fires occur.

00Z Sunday 7th February 2021, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
00Z Sunday 7th February 2021, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)

What does this mean for you?

For the general population, with mild Saharan dust concentrations possible, little to no impacts are forecast beyond slightly hazy skies. For sensitive groups, such as children, the elderly, and persons who suffer from respiratory ailments and allergies, you may need to avoid prolonged exertion outdoors.

We’re in a period where a ridge of high pressure stays over the central Sahara Desert, and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) remains over the Gulf of Guinea.

The Harmattan wind accelerates when it blows across the mountain massifs of Northwest Africa. If its speed is high enough and it blows over dust source regions, it lifts the dust and disperses it.

Dust that makes it into the upper levels of the atmosphere can then get transported across the Atlantic Ocean and affect the Eastern Caribbean.

These Saharan Dust outbreaks tend to be milder in the Eastern Caribbean than the dust outbreaks associated with West African thunderstorms driving dust into the upper atmosphere from April through November.

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