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Cayman monitors Sahara dust and volcanic ash

Local News 20 Apr, 2021 Follow News

Cayman monitors Sahara dust and volcanic ash

Dust from the Sahara desert crossing the Atlantic is more of an immediate concern to Cayman’s weather and medical experts than ash from the erupting volcano in St Vincent.

The Cayman Islands Weather Service says while there is the presence and effects of Sahara dust in the atmosphere across the islands, it is not currently tracking any movement of volcanic ash clouds in the vicinity.

It was responding to reports that the islands were likely to experience volcanic ash from the erupting volcano in St Vincent and Sahara Dust dust spreading across the Atlantic from Africa.

However, there is a presence of Sahara dust particles for which the Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee is advising persons with respiratory illnesses to take the necessary precautions including staying indoors.

Due to the atmosphere being currently dusty, Dr Lee is urging persons with asthma or other chronic lung conditions to be especially careful.

“Please take care and refrain from going outside particularly to take exercise, and if you have to go outside, please wear a mask, preferably a medical mask, and if not a handkerchief or cloth to protect the nose and mouth.”

He also explains that particles from Sahara dust can also cause irritation to the eyes and says if persons experience any symptoms to seek medical advice.

Regarding the concerns about ash from the erupting La Soufriere volcano ij St Vincent, the CMO says, “Although the risk is low, if there is any volcanic ash with the dust, this can have a similar effect to irritate the airways, ear nose and eyes.”

Dr Lee says the most important thing to remember is that “the risk to our health is very low.”

Meantime, Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) says its weather service has been monitoring both situations and confirms that “at this time we can say that we are tracking no volcanic ash clouds approaching the Cayman Islands.

It refers to its advisory issued this morning which it said speaks only of ash clouds in the far eastern Caribbean.

Pertaining to proximity to the Cayman Islands, the furthest west any ash from the St Vincent volcano has moved is to Curacao which is in the south-west Caribbean and far away from the Cayman Islands.

The Weather Service says it will continue to monitor both the movement of the Sahara dust and ash clouds from the St Vincent volcano and will inform the public of any threat.

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