Nearly all islands across the Eastern Caribbean are experiencing good air quality levels as of 7:00 PM Monday 8th July 2019. Tropical Wave 17 is forecast to keep dust levels at minimum over the next 12-18 hours. As this wave progresses westward, a surge in Saharan Dust is forecast to reduce air quality across the Eastern Caribbean to moderate levels. By Friday into Saturday, air quality across T&T will return to good levels as Tropical Wave 18 moves across the Windwards.
Presently, minimal concentrations of Saharan Dust are present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality at good levels.
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.
Generally, across the entire Eastern Caribbean, air quality is at good levels. Similar to T&T, air quality over the next 24 hours are forecast to return to moderate levels as this plume of Saharan Dust moves across the region.
Moderate Air Quality
AQI – 51 to 100
What does this mean for you?
Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants, there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.
Who needs to be concerned?
Unusually sensitive people: Consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. These are signs to take it easier.
Everyone else: It’s a good day to be active outside.
What should you do?
Sensitive Groups: Sensitive groups such as those with respiratory ailments, children and the elderly are advised to reduce outdoor physical exertion, and reduce the time of their stay outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic.
Air purification: At this level, the air is slightly polluted. It is recommended to turn on your air purifier, running at a low level, at a minimum.
Ventilation: Please close windows, as the air is slightly polluted.
Masks: Wearing a mask during outdoor activity is recommended, particularly in areas with heavy traffic.
Outdoor Activity: It is recommended to stay indoors and avoid outdoor exercise.
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.
Good news for folks who suffer from Saharan Dust! Tropical waves, combined with the ITCZ begin to shield Trinidad and Tobago from these dust plumes as they move across the Atlantic. While mild to moderate surges are still forecast following the passage of tropical waves, these dust events are generally forecast to be short-lived and primarily affect islands north of T&T.
Saharan Dust concentrations are forecast to be minimal throughout the night today into the first half of tomorrow. A mild surge of dust is forecast to begin on Tuesday but much of the increased concentrations of dust is forecast to affect islands north of Trinidad and Tobago, towards the Leewards.
Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, mild to moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago over the next several weeks. Based on the latest model guidance, a mild surge is ongoing, mainly north of Trinidad and Tobago, with another mild to moderate surge forecast by the beginning of next week, July 14th.
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.