Saharan Dust Blankets T&T

Saharan Dust Blanketing the Northern Range, Seen from the Queen's Park Savannah. Photo: Trini Max

The highest concentrations of Saharan Dust for 2019 is currently over Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Grenada. Hazy skies and low visibility have been reported since early this morning across the Southern Windwards, reminiscent of fog.

This Saharan Dust event was forecast since Tuesday and subsequent forecasts over the week showed that the event was shaping up to be one of the most severe dust events for 2019 to date.

Photos of the Saharan Dust Event submitted to TTWC across Trinidad and Tobago.

Saharan Dust Forecast

The good news: peak Saharan Dust concentrations are occurring today, Sunday 17th March 2019.

https://videopress.com/v/pIvQ4S50
Saharan Dust Covering Eastern Trinidad, seen from the Hills of Lavantille on Sunday 17th March 2019. Video: Brennon Val Musik Vergil

The bad news: Air quality will remain at unhealthy levels across Trinidad and Tobago through Monday, unhealthy for sensitive groups through Wednesday, and moderate levels through Thursday.

Saharan Dust forecast from the University of Athens SKIRON model, valid on 0Z UTC 17th March 2019 for Monday 18th March 2019.

For the first time for 2019, air quality levels are currently reduced to unhealthy levels solely because of Saharan Dust concentrations. Throughout the year, Saharan Dust concentrations have generally been reduced to unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the possibility of being reduced to unhealthy levels due to bushfires.

Unhealthy Air Quality Forecast

Saharan Dust Concentration Forecast. EPA AQI colours indicated.

Peak concentrations are forecast today, Sunday. Models continue to indicate that moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust will remain in the atmosphere through the first half of next week. Concentrations will decrease as the week progresses.

0Z March 17th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model, showing Saharan dust lingering though the week, decreasing in concentration. CreditWeatherbell
EPA Air Quality Index Risk Levels

Generally, PM2.5 levels (dust or particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) are forecast to remain at unhealthy levels beginning Sunday into Monday.

PM10 levels (dust or particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers) are forecast to remain at unhealthy healthy for sensitive groups during the peak of the event, returning to moderate levels by the end of the forecast period.

At unhealthy levels: There will be increased aggravation of heart or lung disease. Possible premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. There will also be increased respiratory effects in the general population. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion. Everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

Related: Saharan Dust

At unhealthy for sensitive groups: There is the increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals. Aggravation of heart or lung disease and possible premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.

Larger, more concentrated plumes of Saharan dust begin to occur in April, and continue through November. This is due to stronger thunderstorms across interior Africa sending dust into the upper atmosphere.

Trinidad and Tobago are not the only islands affected. Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Barbados will also experience unhealthy air quality at times.

Persons with respiratory ailments are advised to take the necessary precautions, not limited to those listed below.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions
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