Friday 15 November, 2019

Saharan Dust revisits - is it here to stay?

Photo via the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service showing the Northern Range amid a haze of Saharan dust.

Photo via the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service showing the Northern Range amid a haze of Saharan dust.

Although mid-way through the rainy season, it seems like Saharan Dust is now a permanent occurrence.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Office said in an update Thursday that a moderate concentration of Saharan Dust is currently in the atmosphere, however it should dissipate by Saturday, when a Tropical Wave is expected to pass over the country.

“Moderate Saharan Dust is present over the area today. Dust concentrations are likely to decrease over the next few days as a Tropical Wave is expected to pass on Saturday.”

Vulnerable groups and people susceptible to dusty conditions are advised to take the relevant precautions and limit their exposure to the dust, if possible.

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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