Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Met Office: Saharan dust levels still intense

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service is warning the public that current concentrations of Saharan dust are still at peak intensity.

In an update shared to social media, the Met Office said this event, which was forecast last week, reached peak intensity on Monday, however it will slowly begin to decrease in intensity over the next few days. 

The Met Office said the dust may continue to pose a health concern for vulnerable groups, while visibility restrictions still apply to marine craft, especially in areas of heavy sea spray, as the country continues to experience breezy/windy conditions. 

The Met Office warned that marine visibility restrictions would become more significant during dusk and dawn. 

The Met Office is advising the public to be alert and take the necessary precautions.

 

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.

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.

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