BELIZE CITY, Thurs. June 25, 2020– The Caribbean has been experiencing yet another intense natural phenomenon that could negatively impact people in the region. This most recent phenomenon is known as the Saharan Dust Plume. Since Tuesday, June 23, skies in Belize have been noted to have a milky-grey/ashen color as the plume arrives from Africa across the Atlantic.
The blanket of dust is an annual occurrence; however, this year’s cloud has been labeled the “Godzilla Dust Cloud” for its abnormally large size and volume. Notably, a dust cloud of this size hasn’t been seen in the past 50-60 years.
Advisories have been circulated in various Caribbean nations warning citizens of the harmful potential effects resulting from the “Godzilla” cloud, including increased risk of respiratory and related illnesses such as asthma, chronic pulmonary disorder, respiratory infection, and allergies. It is also advised that exposure to the dust could result in skin and eye irritation as well as an increase of water-borne illnesses.
An advisory from Belize’s Meteorological Service urged residents of the country and especially those who suffer from respiratory or heart disease, and elderly persons and children, to “stay hydrated, wear protective gear and avoid outdoor activity as much as possible.”
Despite these negative effects, however, the dust plume has been said to have beneficial effects on the environment, as minerals are acting as a type of airborne fertilizer, benefitting the region’s marine life and tropical rainforests.
Also, the blanket of dust is reported to have temporarily prevented storm activity in the Atlantic.
Dusty conditions in Belize are expected to prevail into next week, but the intensity should decrease over the weekend as the cloud makes its way into the U.S.