Saharan dust blankets Jamaica

THE vast cloud of Sahara dust blanketing Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean worsened yesterday, reducing air quality to what has been determined to be “hazardous” levels.

Experts, who nicknamed the event the “Godzilla dust cloud”, have warned people to stay indoors and use air filters if they have one. The experts have also said the size and concentration of the dust hasn’t been seen in half a century.

Yesterday local weather forecasters warned that Jamaica will experience increases in temperatures through today.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the mass of extremely dry and dusty air, known as the Saharan Air Layer, forms over the Sahara Desert and moves across the North Atlantic every three to five days from late spring to early fall, peaking in late June to mid-August. It can occupy a roughly two-mile thick layer in the atmosphere.

On Monday, Jos Alamo, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said a small tropical wave headed to the Caribbean was expected to alleviate conditions by Thursday.

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