Sunday 23 February, 2020

Watch out for mild Saharan dust next week

Photo courtesy the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Photo courtesy the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

People with respiratory conditions or who are susceptible to dusty conditions are advised to take precautions due to a mild increase in Saharan dust in the coming days. 

Satellite footage shared by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), showed Saharan dust blowing across North Africa, some of it heading west. 

(Video footage via the NOAA.)

However, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service said that the plumes of dust remain mostly to the east of the Caribbean, with generally mild dusty conditions within the next four days or so. 

Meteorologist Alex Young said the Saharan dust is occurring within the Atlantic ocean with only mild amounts reaching the southern Caribbean and Windward Islands from Monday, February 11, 2019. 

He warned that this model data is subject to change as weather conditions develop.

Nevertheless, the majority of the Saharan dust should remain well to the east and south of Trinidad and Tobago. 

Persons who are asthmatic or particularly vulnerable to dusty conditions are advised to take the usual precautions by limiting their exposure and keeping their medication handy. 

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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