A second wave of the Saharan dust cloud is en route to the eastern Caribbean on Thursday, with Jamaica expected to be affected come Saturday, June 27.
The dust cloud, the worst spell being felt by the Caribbean region in 50 years, has changed the region’s once blue skies to a murky greyish-brown colour, reducing air quality and sending thermometers climbing.
Saharan dust plumes are an annual weather phenomenon, which scatters large amounts of nutrient-rich sediment from northwest Africa on its miles-long journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
While its effects are negative on human populations – affecting visibility and triggering respiratory issues among the vulnerable – it is especially beneficial for plant life in many of the tropical rainforests spread across the Americas.
What’s unusual about this year’s event is the larger-than-anticipated clouds as well as the stronger jet streams that have seen the Saharan dust migrate further west into Central America and sections of the United States.
The dust layer is so thick and massive, it can be easily seen on weather satellites. Astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) have also gotten a breath-taking view of it.
The Jamaica Meteorological Service, in its 5:00 am forecast, anticipated a reduction in the Saharan dust’s concentration across the island.
Compounded with an active low-level jet stream in the central Caribbean, windy conditions are expected to persist across Jamaica, especially in southern parishes.