Saharan Dust Forecast To Move Across T&T This Week

After weeks of minimal to no Saharan Dust, mild concentrations are forecast to return on late Monday and remain across the region through Friday, with higher concentrations remaining north of T&T. Across the country, air quality is at good levels with visibility above 10 kilometers as of 7:00 PM Sunday 1st November 2020. From Tuesday through Friday, air quality is forecast to fluctuate between good to moderate air quality.

The Saharan Dust Forecast

Based on the latest dust modeling, air quality across Trinidad and Tobago is forecast to remain at good to moderate levels through the forecast period.

The peak of this dust episode will occur on Wednesday 4th November 2020. Concentrations will be tempered into the weekend with increasing moisture associated with an approaching tropical wave.

02Z Sunday 1st November 2020, NASA GEOS-5 Dust Extinction Model Monitoring Tropical Atlantic Dust Aerosol Optical Depth showing Saharan Dust. (Weathermodels)
02Z Sunday 1st 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, 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 aid in improving 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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