Saharan dust is a mixture of sand and dust from the Sahara, the vast desert area that covers most of North Africa. Large plumes of Saharan dust routinely track into the Atlantic Ocean in the warmer months. Every so often, the dust can travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic at altitudes of 5,000 to 30,000 feet.
There is currently a large plume traveling across the Caribbean responsible for the current hazy appearance of our normally blue skies. Conditions over Anguilla are expected to persist until later this week.
While the presence of the dust is associated with less hurricane activity, in the immediate period, the dust may cause respiratory symptoms such as a dry cough, sore throat, itch, watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose. Moreover, high levels dust may exacerbate illness in persons at high risk of respiratory complications including:
• Persons with pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma
• Persons with pre-existing heart disease
• the elderly
The Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services update today, June 22nd , has indicated that air quality has dropped to unhealthy levels. The Ministry of Health therefore advises that persons stay indoors as much as possible over the next few days. Furthermore, those with pre-existing conditions should ensure that they have all medications close at hand. Affected persons should seek medical
attention if they experience any worsening of their pre-existing conditions or difficulty breathing.
Conditions are expected to improve by Thursday. The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the situation and advise the general public of any changes.