Two Surges of Saharan Dust Forecast To Arrive This Week

A surge of moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust remains forecast to arrive across Trinidad and Tobago at the start of the upcoming week. By Saturday 3rd April 2021, as a high-pressure system dominates across the Atlantic, the easterly trade winds will become a conveyor belt for a significant and prolonged surge of Saharan Dust into mid-April.

On Monday afternoon the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) air quality monitoring stations are recording AQI values at levels that are moderate across Trinidad and Tobago. 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 morning, mild concentrations of Saharan Dust will be present with the air quality varying between good to moderate. Rainfall will temper air quality impacts in localized areas.

From Monday afternoon, through the upcoming week, air quality will remain mostly at moderate due to a mild to a moderate surge of dust.

Dust concentrations will gradually diminish as the week progresses, with a new prolonged but significant surge of dust forecast to arrive on Saturday 3rd April. The air quality will fluctuate between levels that are moderate, at times unhealthy for sensitive groups, into the second week of April. A rainfall event during the upcoming weekend may temper air quality impacts.

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, 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.

On Saturday 3rd April 2021 onward, sensitive groups may need to take all necessary precautions as are quality dips further.

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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