Mild Saharan Dust Forecast This Weekend

Saharan dust concentrations have remained in the far eastern Atlantic this week. However, a mild surge of dust is forecast to arrive across T&T and the Eastern Caribbean by late Friday into Saturday 14th November 2020. This will be a short-lived and mild surge, with another mild surge later next week.

Across the country, air quality is at good levels presently with visibility above 10 kilometers as of 3:00 PM Wednesday 11th November 2020.

The Saharan Dust Forecast

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at good levels through early Friday. Come late Friday night into Saturday, November 14th, or Divali 2020, a mild surge of Saharan Dust will begin to affect T&T. Lower concentrations may linger into the following week.

The good news is that due to the passage of Tropical Wave 64 on Friday into Saturday, much of the higher concentrations are forecast to remain north of T&T during the weekend.

Another mild surge of dust is forecast to arrive on November 17th, with dust moving across T&T more so than this weekend’s dust event.

02Z Wednesday 11th November 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
02Z Wednesday 11th November 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)

What does this mean for you?

Through the week, no impacts are forecast as air quality will be at good levels.

For the general population from November 14th onwards, with mild Saharan Dust forecast, 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.

We’re in a period where the ITCZ, tropical waves, and occasional tropical cyclones 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 improve 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.

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