Over the course of Sunday 17th March 2019, scores of people across Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada began feeling the effects of dense Saharan dust across the region.
This Saharan Dust Outbreak has produced unhealthy air quality across much of the Southern Windwards on Sunday into Monday. Visibility has been reduced to less than 5 kilometers.
Thankfully, the peak concentration associated with this event occurred early Sunday. However, unhealthy levels of Saharan Dust will remain across the Southern Caribbean through Monday, based on latest dust models.
This dust event was well forecast, with indications of a dense plume of Saharan Dust arriving over the weekend since last Tuesday. As the week progressed, the severity of the plume and this Saharan Dust Outbreak was clear.
Based on latest models, Saharan dust concentrations will likely return to mild levels late Wednesday into Thursday. However, in the interim, concentrations will fluctuate between unhealthy levels on Monday, to unhealthy for sensitive groups on Tuesday through Wednesday. By Thursday, air quality will return to moderate levels.
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.
As of 8:15PM Sunday night, Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Suriname, Guyana and St. Vincent & the Grenadines were all experiencing unhealthy air quality levels.
Over the week, islands as north as Martinique, to countries as south as Suriname, will experience or continue to experience reduced air quality as a result of this outbreak.
The general population, as well as persons with respiratory ailments need to take all necessary precautions.