Wednesday 27 May, 2020

Another wave of Saharan Dust is heading for T&T

Photo courtesy the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Photo courtesy the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Asthma sufferers, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups are advised to stock up on their medication and prepare for another onslaught of Saharan Dust within the coming days.

According to an update shared to social media by the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service, there is a moderate-to-thick layer of Saharan dust developing off the west coast of the African continent, some of which may reach Trinidad and Tobago by this weekend. 

"TTMS is currently monitoring another Saharan Dust plume which is making its way off the African coast, as seen on the satellite image. Moderate to thick concentrations of Saharan dust are expected to affect Trinidad and Tobago and the Lesser Antilles from late Friday (12th) into the weekend."

"Please be advised accordingly and an update would be posted later this week," the Met Office said.

The Met Office added that it will continue to monitor this development.

For vulnerable groups such as asthma sufferers, children and the elderly, these dusty conditions could be problematic.

Healthcare professionals recommend saline spray, air purifiers, nasal irrigation other over the counter treatments to help treat mild symptoms of nasal congestion and irritation.

Persons with medical conditions who may be affected by are advised to remain indoors if possible or to wear protective clothing such as dust masks for extra protection.


What is Saharan Dust?

Saharan dust is composed of sand and other mineral particles that are swept up in air currents and pushed over the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and other nearby regions.

As the dust-laden air moves, it creates a temperature inversion which in turn tends to prevent cloud -- and eventually -- storm formation.

It means fewer storms and even hurricanes are less likely to strike when the dust is present.

Normally, hundreds of millions of tons of dust are picked up from the deserts of Africa and blown across the Atlantic Ocean each year.

That dust helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilizes soils in the Amazon. It affects air quality in North and South America.

It likely plays a role in the suppression of hurricanes and the decline of coral reefs as well.  

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