The Saharan Air Layer (SAL)

Based on information from St. Kitts Meteorological Services, the Federation is presently being

affected by a plume of Saharan dust that is making its way across the Caribbean. This mass of very dusty air was formed over the Sahara Desert on the West Coast of Africa and was transported by easterly trade winds westward across the northern Atlantic to the Lesser Antilles. This is a regular phenomenon that occurs between March to September each year.

This Saharan Air Layer (SAL) will impact the Federation in the following two (2) ways:

1. A Difference in the Sky

The blanket of tiny dust particles creates a hazy sky. We are informed that it will be most dense today Monday, June 22, 2020. The dust particles also contribute to spectacular sunrises and sunsets that can be observed in the Caribbean islands, South Florida and the US Gulf Coast.

2. Increase in Complaints Related to Allergies

This increase in airborne particulates and dust can be irritating for individuals already diagnosed with allergies and respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

(COPD). Persons can experience the following symptoms when outdoors and exposed to these pollutants: (1) itchy eyes, (2) burning eyes, (3) runny nose, (4) sneezing and, if asthmatic, you can experience chest tightness and even wheezing. Such individuals may have to seek medical care.

People First Quality Always


The Saharan Air Layer (SAL)

It is recommended that persons with respiratory conditions and allergies should remain indoors as much as possible. While outdoors, the wearing of a facemask will be beneficial, as it will protect you from inhaling the pollutants and dust particles. Respiratory hygiene is an imperative

at this time. Remember to use a disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing, keep hands out of your face and wash hands regularly with soap and water or use an appropriate hand sanitizer.

There is at least one positive effect of the Sahara dust. The Saharan Air Layer generally suppresses tropical cyclone or hurricane formation in the Atlantic Ocean.

Again, the Ministry of Health recommends that during the passage of this massive Saharan dust plume persons remain indoors as much as possible. This is particularly advised for persons already diagnosed with allergies and chronic lung conditions like asthma. It is further recommended that if you must go outside you can wear a facemask to protect yourself from the dust and pollutants. Please remain safe as the Saharan dust plume makes its way across our Federation en-route to the US Gulf Coast.

Office of the Chief Medical Officer Monday June 22, 2020