Next Surge of Saharan Dust Forecast To Arrive In 7 Days

Moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust are present across Trinidad and Tobago, forecast to decline over the next 12-24 hours. No major surges of dust are forecast to arrive across the region through the week, with the next major surge forecast to arrive by March 29th into March 30th.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) air quality monitoring stations are recording AQI values at levels that are good to moderate in Trinidad and Tobago as of Monday morning. These measurements are 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 Monday night, mild to moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust will be present with the air quality varying between good to moderate.

From Tuesday, through the next 5-6 days, air quality will generally be at good levels in areas as little to no Saharan Dust will be present in the region.

Dust concentrations will gradually diminish at the start of next week, with a new moderate surge of dust forecast on Monday 29th March 2021. The air quality will fluctuate between levels that are good to moderate as a potential rainfall event may temper air quality impacts at least through March 30th.

00Z Sunday 21st March 2021, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust.
00Z Sunday 21st March 2021, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust.

What does this mean for you?

For the general population, mainly on Monday where the highest concentrations are anticipated, little to no impacts are forecast beyond 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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