A Dusty Start To May 2019

Saharan Dust concentrations remain mild across Trinidad and Tobago this week. A plume of Saharan Dust is forecast to arrive across Trinidad, Tobago and the Southern Windwards on Friday night (May 3rd) into Saturday (May 4th). Mild to moderate concentrations are forecast to linger for at least the next two weeks. Pulses of increased concentrations are also forecast to continually degrade air quality throughout the first half of may.

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Presently, minimal to mild concentrations of Saharan Dust is present across Trinidad and Tobago. Throughout the week, i.e. through Friday, these dust levels are forecast to persist. Air quality across Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, St Lucia and Martinique are at good levels, occasionally reducing to moderate levels.

On Friday evening, into Saturday, a mild to moderate plume of Saharan Dust is forecast to arrive across Trinidad, Tobago and the remainder of the Southern Windwards. It is important to note that as of present (7:00PM Tuesday 30th April 2019), this initial plume of dust is not forecast to be as severe as the unhealthy air quality experienced during the March 2019 dust event. Air quality is forecast to be reduced to moderate levels, and at times, unhealthy for sensitive groups.

EPA Air Quality Index (AQI) Risk Levels
EPA Air Quality Index (AQI) Risk Levels

At moderate air quality levels, unusually sensitive groups should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

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.

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

According to the Barbados Meteorological Service, the first tropical wave of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season is already approaching South America, forecast to remain well south of Trinidad and Tobago and have no impacts to the islands. However, according to the United States NWS Weather Prediction Center International Desk, their first tropical wave has just emerged off the coast of Western Africa. It is forecast to remain near the ITCZ and well south of Trinidad and Tobago. It is this tropical wave which the increased concentrations of Saharan Dust is following. Note that the National Hurricane Center has not analyzed any tropical waves in their latest surface analysis as of 18Z Tuesday 30th April 2019.
5 Day Air Quality Index Across Trinidad and Tobago
5 Day Air Quality Index Across Trinidad and Tobago
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 00Z April 30th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing a "firehose" of Saharan Dust aimed at the Lesser Antilles, beginning this weekend. Increased concentrations and degraded air quality forecast. Credit: Weatherbell
00Z April 30th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing a “firehose” of Saharan Dust aimed at the Lesser Antilles, beginning this weekend. Increased concentrations and degraded air quality forecast. Credit: Weatherbell

Long range modelling indicate that fluctuating concentrations of Saharan Dust is forecast to persist across Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the remainder of the Southern Windwards through the first half of May.

Related: Saharan Dust

With dry conditions persisting, bush fires will be on the rise. In the presence of even mild Saharan Dust, air quality can quickly degrade to moderate and even unhealthy for sensitive groups. Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions
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