Good Air Quality As Saharan Dust Forecast to Stay North of T&T

Little to no Saharan Dust forecast to move across T&T over the next 10 days. Across the country, air quality is at good levels with visibility above 10 kilometers as of 8:00 PM Thursday 13th August 2020.

Two mild surges of Saharan dust is forecast across the Lesser Antilles over the next 10 days with higher concentrations remaining north of T&T.

Through the weekend, the passage of Tropical Storm Josephine north of the Leewards will allow for good air quality across the Lesser Antilles.

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.

Air Quality Index at Environmental Management Agency's (EMA) Air Quality Monitoring Stations Across Trinidad. Note these AQI values are to Trinidad and Tobago air quality standards.
Air Quality Index at Environmental Management Agency‘s (EMA) Air Quality Monitoring Stations Across Trinidad. Note these AQI values are to Trinidad and Tobago air quality standards.

The Saharan Dust Forecast

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at good levels through the forecast period, at times moderate, particularly early next week.

Across Trinidad and Tobago, showers and isolated thunderstorms are forecast to temper air quality impacts, with higher concentrations still remaining north of T&T.

02Z August 13th, 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
02Z August 13th, 2020, 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, 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.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions
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