Minor Surge Of Saharan Dust Forecast On Monday

There is little to no Saharan dust across T&T as of Saturday night. However, a brief but mild surge of Saharan dust is forecast to move across the Lesser Antilles early this upcoming week.

Across the country, air quality is at good levels with visibility at 10 kilometers as of 6:00 PM Saturday 28th November 2020.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) air quality monitoring stations are recording AQI values at levels that are good to moderate 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

Adding onto the previous forecast, higher concentrations still remain north of T&T, with peak dust concentrations forecast Monday night into Tuesday 1st December 2020.

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at moderate levels through late Tuesday into Wednesday. Dust levels are forecast to diminish, returning to good levels through the latter half of the week with no major surges of dust forecast over the next 10 days.

02Z Saturday 28th November 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
02Z Saturday 28th 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?

For the general population, with mild to moderate Saharan dust concentrations 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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