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Another wave of Saharan dust blows across parts of Caribbean

February 7th, 2024 | Tags:
Several islands in the Caribbean region are feeling the effects of Saharan dust. Image: Loop News

Persons who suffer from allergies and other respiratory issues probably already know that Saharan dust is present in the atmosphere as several islands in the Caribbean region are feeling its effects.

Various meteorological departments have highlighted this in their weather forecasts as people sensitive to the Saharan dust are urged to take precautions.  

The weather outlook for Dominica notes a layer of dust haze is expected to result in a relatively dry atmosphere during the next 24 hours. Dominica Met says despite a reduction in concentration today, the dust haze is expected to result in a reduction in visibility and air quality during this week. It urges people with respiratory sensitivities to take the necessary precautions to avoid complications.

Over in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Meteorological Services says varying concentrations of Saharan dust continue to create hazy conditions reducing visibility across SVG and the associated dry air limits shower activity.  

It says historically, rainfall totals across SVG are lowest during the months of February to March. Moderate concentrations of Saharan dust can be expected by Thursday.  

This information has since prompted the Ministry of Health to urge Vincentians to take precautions. It says while this natural phenomenon may lead to hazy skies, the Saharan dust haze can cause the following health effects: 

  • A dry cough  

  • A sore throat  

  • Itchy, watery eyes  

  • Sneezing  

  • Runny nose 

The Ministry says Vincentians can follow these essential tips to stay safe during this period to avoid complications:  

1. Use a clean face mask if you must go outside - If you have respiratory issues, consider using clean face masks when venturing outside to reduce inhalation of dust particles and potential irritants. 

2. Close windows and doors to minimize dust entry into your home. 

3. Stay Hydrated: Sahara dust can contribute to dry air, so it is essential to stay well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water to help soothe respiratory passages and maintain overall health.  

4. Follow Medication Plans: If you have asthma or any respiratory conditions, please adhere to your prescribed medication plan. Ensure that you have an adequate supply of inhalers or medications during this period. 

5. Seek Medical Advice: If you experience worsening respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or persistent coughing, seek medical attention promptly. Asthmatics should consult their healthcare providers for personalised advice. The elderly, children and those with preexisting respiratory conditions are also vulnerable at this time.  

The Ministry of Health says by following these necessary precautions, Vincentians can minimise the potential health risks associated with the Saharan dust. 

Meanwhile, in Grenada, the Meteorological Service notes a significant increase in Saharan dust concentrations is expected to affect the State of Grenada. Moderate concentrations of haze are expected today with the potential for it to become dense on Thursday.  

As a result, the public is advised to take precautionary measures, especially persons with respiratory issues and mariners out at sea.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the Meteorological Service says the Saharan Dust concentration is expected to increase as the day progresses. Air quality will be reduced and sensitive groups should take the necessary precautions. 

It says the highest concentrations are expected to occur on Thursday, February 8, and should last until the morning of Friday, February 9, after which, the Saharan dust concentrations should return to moderate to mild. 

And, in Guyana, the Hydrometeorological Service issued a special information advisory on Tuesday that a thick plume of Saharan dust is expected to move into Guyana from late Wednesday into early Thursday.  

It says persons sensitive to changes in air quality are advised to take precautions.  

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