Across Trinidad and Tobago, air quality is at good levels with visibility above 10 kilometers as of 12:00 AM Monday 20th July 2020. Two mild surges of Saharan dust is forecast across T&T over the next 7 days, with a moderate surge forecast at the beginning of next week.
In localized areas, further reduced air quality will occur in areas with smoke, fires, and high vehicular traffic.
There are three tropical waves forecast to move across T&T over the next 7 days, (Monday, Wednesday/Thursday, and Sunday), which are forecast to bring periods of good air quality, with surges of dust following.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) air quality monitoring stations are presently 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
Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at good levels through Tuesday, with two brisk surges of dust late Tuesday into Wednesday and another Friday into Saturday. Both of these surges will be short-lived and mild, with higher concentrations remaining north of T&T.
By next week, models are showing a moderate surge of Saharan Dust moving across the region. However, across Trinidad and Tobago, showers and isolated thunderstorms are forecast to temper air quality impacts, with higher concentrations still remaining north of T&T.
What does this mean for you?
For the general population, little to no impacts are forecast beyond reduced visibility. 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. See the AQI levels versus the above Saharan Dust forecast for more details
We’re in a period where the ITCZ and tropical waves shield Trinidad and Tobago from the Saharan Dust events. While tropical waves play a notable role in moving dust across the Atlantic and the Eastern Caribbean, these frequent tropical waves also aid in improving air quality.
The concentration of the dust that follows the wave depends on the strength of the wave as it moves off the West African Coast. This is because of stronger thunderstorms across Central Africa. As strong winds move downward and outward from these thunderstorms, the wind kicks up dust as it moves across parts of the Saharan Desert and transports it into the upper atmosphere. This “plume” of dust follows the axis of the wave as it progresses westward into the Atlantic.
Larger, more concentrated plumes of Saharan dust begin to occur in April and continue through November.
Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions on days where dust concentrations degrade air quality to moderate and beyond, as there is more Saharan Dust forecast.