The First Significant Saharan Dust Outbreak of 2019 Starts Today

Over the next 24 hours, increased concentrations of Saharan Dust will be moving across Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the northern coasts of all northeastern South American countries.

For Trinidad and Tobago, based solely on the concentration of Saharan Dust (PM 2.5 & PM 10), air quality levels will be reduced to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Saharan Dust Forecast over the next 5 days

At this air quality level, there is an 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, particularly outdoors.

EPA Air Quality Index Risk Levels

With the prevalence of bush fires across the country, and the increased smoke in the atmosphere, air quality can be even reduced to unhealthy levels by Monday evening through Tuesday. At unhealthy levels, there is increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. There is also increased respiratory effects in the general population. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion. The general population should limit prolonged exertion.

This Saharan Dust outbreak will be two-fold. The initial, high-concentration dust will arrive throughout today (Monday), with peak concentrations mainly occurring across Trinidad overnight into Tuesday. Concentrations will remain fairly high throughout Tuesday but begin to decrease in the overnight hours. This initial plume of dust will mainly affect Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada and to a lesser extent, Barbados.

Across much of the Southern Windwards, including Trinidad and Tobago, mild concentrations of dust are expected to linger throughout the week, reducing air quality levels to moderate at times.

However, by Saturday (Feb 16th), the second round of high-concentration dust is expected to arrive across most of the Eastern Caribbean. Air quality levels are likely to be reduced to moderate levels, with some areas experiencing unhealthy for sensitive groups air quality levels. This second round of dust is expected to be more concentrated, and remain across the islands longer than the first.

Saharan Dust forecast from the University of Athens SKIRON model, valid on 8:00PM (0Z UTC) Friday 15th February 2019.

Throughout the week, it is highly advised that persons with respiratory ailments take the necessary precautions, not limited to those listed below.

Saharan Dust Precautions
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