Saharan Dust Forecast Across T&T Over Next 5 Days

Saharan dust is present across the Eastern Caribbean, with most islands reporting moderate air quality, including Trinidad and Tobago. Saharan Dust levels have been mild over the last 48 hours and will remain mild through the next 5 days as concentrations fluctuate.

Air quality across the Eastern Caribbean as of 12:00 PM Wednesday 18th November 2020
Air quality across the Eastern Caribbean as of 3:00 PM Friday 20th November 2020

Across the country, air quality is at moderate levels presently with visibility above 10 kilometers as of 3:00 PM Friday 20th November 2020.

The Saharan Dust Forecast

The surge of Saharan dust is forecast to intensify through the weekend, with higher concentrations remaining north of T&T due to a shearline and Tropical Wave 66 affecting the region. Concentrations are forecast to diminish by Wednesday 25th November 2020.

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at moderate levels through next Wednesday (25th November 2020). Concentrations are forecast to peak on Sunday into Monday.

The good news is that due to the passage of Tropical Wave 66 on Friday into Saturday, much of the higher concentrations are forecast to remain north of T&T.

Improvement is forecast from Wednesday 25th November 2020, with another surge of dust forecast to return by next weekend (Saturday 28th November 2020).

02Z Friday 20th November 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
02Z Friday 20th 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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