Increased Concentrations of Saharan Dust Forecast Next Week. Air Quality Presently At Moderate Levels.

As of 11:00 AM Thursday 30th May 2019, Saharan Dust concentrations are mild across Trinidad and Tobago with air quality at moderate levels. A decrease in dust concentrations is forecast Sunday into Monday as a tropical wave is forecast to briefly reduce dust concentrations. Islands from Trinidad and Tobago to Martinique are presently experiencing good to moderate air quality. An additional, more significant surge in dust is forecast by early to mid-next week, with air quality likely being reduced to moderate, and unhealthy for sensitive groups at times.

Presently, mild concentrations of Saharan Dust are present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality generally at moderate levels. As of 11:00 AM Thursday 30th May 2019, most islands across the Eastern Caribbean are at good air quality levels. As of the latest Saharan Dust forecast models, air quality is forecast to remain between good and moderate levels through Monday.

Air Quality Across Trinidad and Tobago at moderate levels as of 11:00 AM Thursday 30th May 2019.
Air Quality Across Trinidad and Tobago at moderate levels as of 11:00 AM Thursday 30th May 2019.

At moderate air quality levels, unusually sensitive groups should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

Now that tropical waves are beginning to move across the Atlantic, Saharan Dust follows a more predictable pattern. Hot, mostly sunny and slightly hazy conditions with mild concentrations of Saharan Dust are typical ahead of a tropical wave, as it will be today through Saturday. Dust concentrations will decrease as the wave axis nears and passes over T&T, with showers and possible thunderstorms following the wave axis, as will be the case Sunday into Monday. Then, a surge of dust is forecast to follow the showers and possible thunderstorms as the tropical wave progresses westward, as will be the case Monday into Tuesday, though the remainder of next week.

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.

This will be the case over next week, with a denser plume of Saharan Dust moving across much of the Eastern Caribbean reducing air quality to moderate, and unhealthy for sensitive groups at times.

Larger, more concentrated plumes of Saharan dust begin to occur in April and continue through November.

5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. Note that as the wave moves out of the area on Monday, air quality may begin to degrade, reducing to moderate by the late night.
5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. Note that as the wave moves out of the area on Monday, air quality may begin to degrade, reducing to moderate by the late night.

Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, mild to moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago. On late Monday into Tuesday, the denser plume of Saharan Dust is forecast, reducing air quality across the Eastern Caribbean. This dust is forecast to linger through the next week.

 00Z May 29th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing increased concentrations of Saharan Dust aimed at the Lesser Antilles by June 4th 2019. Credit: Weatherbell
00Z May 29th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing increased concentrations of Saharan Dust aimed at the Lesser Antilles by June 4th 2019. Credit: Weatherbell

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 to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions
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