Saharan dust haze increasing over Guyana

…could be hazardous – Hydromet warns

The large plume of Saharan dust that is shrouding over Guyana and the Caribbean region is increasing and will continue to hover.
The Hydromet Office on Monday warned that this will cause low visibility and poor air quality. In addition to the already dry atmosphere, the Saharan dust-haze is forecast to reduce visibility between four and six kilometres and can become progressively thicker.
“The dust can be hazardous due to lower visibility, while dust particles can exacerbate the symptoms of respiratory illnesses and allergies. The dust can cause eye, nose and throat irritation,” a statement indicated.
In light of these conditions, residents, visitors, and marine users are asked to exercise caution and be prepared to take mitigative action if necessary. Persons with respiratory issues or allergies should ensure that they travel with or have all prescribed medications in close reach. Marine users should monitor the situation closely, along with the forecast for any further deterioration.
The Sahara is said to be Earth’s major source of mineral dust and can be lifted by convection over hot desert areas, reaching high altitudes. Thereafter, it can be transported thousands of kilometres away from the source by winds.
Combined with the extremely dry air of the Sahara Desert, the dust forms an atmospheric layer called the Saharan Air Layer which has significant effects on tropical weather. It also interferes with the development of hurricanes.
NASA Earth Observatory noted a few days ago that more than 180 million tons of dust blow out from North Africa, lifted out of the Sahara Desert by strong seasonal winds each year.
“Perhaps most familiar are the huge, showy plumes that advance across the tropical Atlantic Ocean toward the Americas. But the dust goes elsewhere, too—settling back down in other parts of Africa or drifting north toward Europe.”
Last June, several Caribbean countries were severely affected by a similar occurrence. According to the BBC, islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique were suffering their worst haze for at least a decade while Cuba was warned of respiratory problems.
“Usually, the dust sparkles thousands of feet above Earth’s surface. But this plume is not only much bigger than usual; it’s much lower, too. By the time the plume made it to land near the Caribbean and southern US last week, that dust-rain was closer than it usually is to where people live and breathe,” the geography entity detailed.
If anyone requires additional information, they can visit or call the Duty Forecaster, National Weather Watch Centre 261-3065/ 4489/ 2284/ 2216.