Surges of Saharan Dust Forecast To Continue As Tropical Waves Move Across T&T

Saharan Dust concentrations across the Windwards are on the decline, but only for the remainder of this week. As of 8:00 AM Thursday 13th June 2019, Saharan Dust concentrations are moderate across Trinidad and Tobago with air quality at moderate levels, presently. Air quality across the Windwards are at moderate levels due to elevated concentrations of dust across the region. Across the Eastern Greater Antilles, Leewards and French Antilles, air quality has returned to good levels – but only through Friday. Air quality is forecast to remain at moderate levels through the remainder of the week. Persons with respiratory ailments, heart disease, the elderly and children need to take the necessary precautions!

Presently, moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust is present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality at moderate levels. Air quality monitoring stations across Trinidad are detecting elevated levels of Saharan Dust, with air quality index (AQI) values generally between 60 to 80.

Moderate Air Quality Index values across Trinidad and Tobago due to elevated Saharan Dust across the islands.
Moderate Air Quality Index values across Trinidad and Tobago due to elevated Saharan Dust across the islands.

According to the EMA, the national standard for Particulate Matter (PM) of diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) is 65 µg/m3 and PM of diameter ≤10 µm (PM2.5) is 75 µg/m3. Neither of these has been topped in this recent Saharan Dust Outbreak.

Islands across the Eastern Greater Antilles, the French Antilles (except Martinique), and the Leewards are experiencing good air quality while the Windwards are experiencing moderate air quality due to the dense plume of dust moving across the region.

Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles
Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles

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

At air quality levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, there is the increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease & the elderly. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.

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.

5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A weak Tropical Wave moved across T&T on Wednesday night with a surge of Saharan Dust forecast on Friday. On Saturday through Monday, another tropical wave is forecast to move across the Eastern Caribbean, bringing a higher chance of showers, thunderstorms, and Saharan Dust relief. A more significant surge is forecast by June 21st as Tropical Waves 07 and 08 move out of the Lesser Antilles.
5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A weak Tropical Wave moved across T&T on Wednesday night with a surge of Saharan Dust forecast on Friday. On Saturday through Monday, another tropical wave is forecast to move across the Eastern Caribbean, bringing a higher chance of showers, thunderstorms, and Saharan Dust relief. A more significant surge is forecast by June 21st as Tropical Waves 07 and 08 move out of the Lesser Antilles.

Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, moderate to high concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago over the next several weeks. Based on the latest model guidance, we’re expecting a mild surge of dust late Thursday into Friday (June 13th-14th), with a more significant surge of dust from June 21st to June 22nd.

00Z June 12th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell
00Z June 12th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell

Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions on days where dust concentrations degrade air quality to moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions
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