Mon | Oct 3, 2022

Saharan Dust cloud impacting Jamaica

Published:Thursday | May 19, 2022 | 7:52 PM
Saharan Dust, originating over northern Africa and sometimes impacting weather conditions over diverse locations of the world, currently extends from the tropical Atlantic into the Caribbean region. - File photo

Jamaicans are being urged to exercise heightened vigilance and care during the passage of the Sahara Dust plume now affecting the island.

Its impact on Jamaica is expected to gradually increase into the weekend, being mostly concentrated on Saturday and Sunday, and then decrease during the start of next week as it drifts towards the northwest. 

Saharan Dust, originating over northern Africa and sometimes impacting weather conditions over diverse locations of the world, currently extends from the tropical Atlantic into the Caribbean region.  This is especially common during the period of May to August annually.

Over the past 72 hours a fairly large plume of dust has been observed via satellite to be moving over the Eastern Caribbean and into the central parts of the Basin.  It is projected that the impact on the Caribbean is likely to remain for another few days until about Tuesday of next week.

“The ministry and the MET Service are aware of the increased number of Jamaicans who are now afflicted with respiratory difficulties as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are therefore urging the continued wearing of masks to mitigate the effects of the dust plume as well as offering the best defence to the resurgent COVID-19 disease and also staying indoors where possible,” said Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda.

Jamaicans are also being urged to cover outdoor water supplies, particularly those who engage in rainwater harvesting, as the dust may impact the quality of the water.

The Saharan Dust is characterised by hazy conditions and usually results in stable air with reduced rainfall activity.  This spike in airborne micro-particles is known to aggravate health issue, particularly respiratory illnesses including asthma. 

Conditions associated with this episode of Saharan Dust are not expected to be severe; however, the Meteorological Service will continue to monitor its development and progress.

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