Surge of dust from Saharan desert expected in Jamaica this week

(Photo: UC San Diego News Centre)

Dust from the Saharan desert in Africa is expected to reach Jamaica and parts of the Western Caribbean this week. The result will be hazy and hotter conditions and more vibrant sunsets. People with respiratory illnesses will also experience some discomfort.

The dust outbreak is commonly known as the Saharan Air Layer (SAL), and happens every year when millions of tons of dust are picked up from the deserts of Africa and blown across the Atlantic Ocean. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the SAL is most common during the hurricane season.

While the dust helps build beaches in the Caribbean and fertilizes soils in the Amazon, it can severely affect air quality, increase tropical cyclones development and can result in harmful heat stress-related impacts on animals and plants.

During this time, it is important to stay hydrated,and avoid the heat by not staying out in the direct sunlight, especially during the hours of 11am to 3pm each day.