No Major Surges of Saharan Dust Forecast For The Remainder of 2020

2020 has been the year of Saharan Dust, with record-breaking surges moving across the Atlantic Ocean and our air quality reaching hazardous levels for the first time in recorded history. However, relief is here. No major surges of Saharan Dust are forecast over the next 10 days, through the end of 2020.

Across the country, air quality is at good levels with visibility at 10 kilometers as of 2:00 PM Monday 21st December 2020.

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

Over the next 10 days, no major surges of Saharan Dust are forecast to move across T&T, with higher concentrations remaining across the Eastern Atlantic.

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at good levels well into the end of the year.

00Z Monday 21st December 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
00Z Monday 21st December 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 little to no Saharan dust concentrations forecast, little to no impacts are forecast.

We’re in a period where a ridge of high pressure stays over the central Sahara Desert, and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) remains over the Gulf of Guinea.

The Harmattan wind accelerates when it blows across the mountain massifs of Northwest Africa. If its speed is high enough and it blows over dust source regions, it lifts the dust and disperses it.

Dust that makes it into the upper levels of the atmosphere can then get transported across the Atlantic Ocean and affect the Eastern Caribbean.

These Saharan Dust outbreaks tend to be milder in the Eastern Caribbean than the dust outbreaks associated with West African thunderstorms driving dust into the upper atmosphere from April through November.

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