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Saharan Dust Event Set to Affect U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico



Satellite image showing Saharan dust advancing across the Tropical Atlantic. Credit: NOAA

Starting Tuesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) in San Juan has forecasted a significant plume of Saharan dust to reach Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This event, categorized as moderate to severe, is expected to persist until at least Thursday, bringing various environmental and health challenges.

Residents in the affected areas should prepare for hazy skies and diminished visibility during the dust event. The NWS has reported that the dust plume, originating from the Sahara and Sahel deserts in Africa, will travel over 5,000 kilometers across the Atlantic Ocean, notably degrading air quality in the Caribbean.

The Saharan dust contains mineral particles that serve as a natural fertilizer for ecosystems but also pose health risks. The V.I. Department of Health warns that the dust can worsen existing health conditions, especially for immunocompromised individuals, the elderly, and young children. Health experts have observed increased respiratory issues during Saharan dust events, such as sinusitis, allergies, asthma, and bronchitis.

Common symptoms linked to Saharan dust exposure include:

  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Sinusitis
  • Allergies
  • Asthma exacerbation
  • Eye and skin irritation
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Risk of respiratory infection

To mitigate health risks during the dust event, residents are advised to:

  • Keep necessary medications on hand
  • Stay hydrated and wear light clothing
  • Avoid outdoor activities whenever possible
  • Use face masks and eyeglasses to protect against dust particles

The NWS will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.

For the latest satellite imagery of the Tropical Atlantic and to track the dust plume’s progression, the public can view updates here.

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Historical Heatwaves and Their Impact on Local Residents



USVI have experienced a notable increase in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, exacerbated by the ongoing effects of climate change. This trend poses significant challenges to the residents, infrastructure, and ecosystems of the islands.

Climate Trends in the USVI

Over recent decades, the USVI has observed rising temperatures and prolonged heatwaves. According to climate data, average temperatures in the Caribbean region have been steadily increasing, with significant implications for both the natural environment and human health. The USVI is particularly vulnerable due to its geographical location, limited resources, and high dependency on marine and coastal ecosystems.

Impacts on Health and Well-being

Heatwaves have direct and severe effects on human health, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke, dehydration, and cardiovascular complications. Vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions, are at greater risk. During extreme heat events, healthcare facilities may become overwhelmed, and energy demands surge as residents seek relief through air conditioning, straining the power infrastructure.

Local health initiatives, supported by grants from the U.S. Department of the Interior, aim to increase community health literacy regarding the impacts of climate change and heatwaves. These efforts are crucial for improving public health responses and mitigating the adverse effects on vulnerable populations.

Environmental and Economic Impacts

The USVI’s economy heavily relies on tourism, which can be significantly disrupted by extreme weather events. Heatwaves, coupled with rising sea levels and coastal erosion, threaten the islands’ beaches, coral reefs, and other natural attractions. This not only impacts tourism revenues but also affects local livelihoods dependent on fishing and marine resources.

The coastal infrastructure, including power plants, water and sewage systems, and transportation hubs, is also at risk. For instance, the power plants on St. Thomas and St. Croix, as well as critical cargo ports and cruise terminals, face increased vulnerability to extreme heat and sea level rise. This exposure necessitates urgent adaptation measures to safeguard these essential services.

Adaptation and Resilience Building

In response to these challenges, the USVI government has implemented several climate change adaptation programs. These initiatives focus on building resilience through coordinated planning and collaboration across public, private, and non-profit sectors. The Climate Change Council, established by Executive Order in 2015, spearheads these efforts, ensuring that climate adaptation strategies are integrated into policy and planning frameworks.

Key projects include vulnerability and risk assessments, workshops on the economic impacts of climate change, and the development of decision-support tools for ecosystem-based adaptation. These initiatives aim to enhance the resilience of both natural and human systems to the increasing threats posed by climate change.


As climate change continues to drive more frequent and severe heatwaves in the USVI, the impacts on local residents, infrastructure, and the economy become more pronounced. Proactive adaptation strategies and community engagement are essential to mitigate these effects and build a resilient future for the islands. By leveraging local and federal resources, the USVI can develop robust responses to protect its population and sustain its economic vitality in the face of a changing climate.

For further details on the ongoing climate change adaptation efforts in the USVI, visit Coastal Resilience and the USVI Climate Change Program.

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Weather Forecast: What to Expect This Week in USVI



The U.S. Virgin Islands are set to experience a mix of weather conditions this week, making it essential to stay updated for both residents and visitors. Here’s a detailed look at what you can expect from Monday, July 15, 2024, onward.

Monday, July 15

The week begins with partly cloudy skies and temperatures ranging from 79°F to 87°F. Passing showers are expected, contributing to a 40% chance of precipitation. Winds will be light at 10 mph, creating a comfortable start to the week with a “feels-like” temperature of 94°F due to the humidity.

Tuesday, July 16

On Tuesday, expect similar conditions with passing showers and morning clouds. Temperatures will be slightly higher, between 80°F and 87°F, with a humidity level pushing the “feels-like” temperature to 98°F. Winds will pick up, blowing at 16 mph from the east​.

Midweek: Wednesday to Thursday

Wednesday and Thursday will see an increase in temperature, with highs reaching 89°F and lows around 81°F. Both days will feature passing showers and partly cloudy skies. Winds will be stronger at around 22 mph, and the humidity will remain high, making it feel closer to 99°F​​.

Friday, July 19

Friday’s forecast predicts scattered clouds and passing showers, with temperatures stable between 81°F and 89°F. The chance of precipitation drops to 44%, with winds maintaining their speed at 22 mph​​.

Weekend Outlook: Saturday and Sunday

The weekend will bring more significant changes, especially on Saturday with thundershowers expected throughout the day. Temperatures will hover around 87°F to 81°F, and the humidity will spike, leading to a 77% chance of precipitation and potential thundershowers. Sunday will see a slight improvement, with passing showers and morning clouds. Temperatures will range from 80°F to 88°F​​.

General Weather Patterns and Tips

Ocean Temperatures and Activities July is an excellent month for water activities in the USVI, with average sea temperatures around 83.7°F. This range is perfect for swimming, diving, and other water sports, offering comfortable conditions for prolonged periods​​.

Daylight and Sun Protection With an average of 13 hours and 7 minutes of daylight, you will have plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities. Sunrise is around 5:51 AM and sunset at 6:59 PM. Remember, the UV index will be very high, so it’s crucial to wear sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful sun exposure​.

Marine Forecast The waters around the USVI will experience moderate to fresh easterly winds throughout the week. Seas will be up to 7 feet, especially in offshore areas, and a tropical wave will bring increased shower and thunderstorm activity by midweek. Boaters should exercise caution and stay updated with the latest marine forecasts​.

By staying informed and prepared, you can make the most of your time in the beautiful U.S. Virgin Islands, regardless of the weather. Enjoy your week!

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Tropical Storms Hit the Virgin Islands: How to Prepare



As tropical storms and hurricanes frequently threaten the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is crucial to be well-prepared to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. The Atlantic hurricane season spans from June 1 to November 30, peaking between mid-August and late October. Effective preparation can mitigate the risks associated with these powerful storms.

1. Understand the Risks

The Virgin Islands face several hazards from tropical storms, including high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, and flooding. Understanding these risks is the first step in preparing adequately. The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) provides resources to help residents stay informed about potential threats.

2. Develop an Emergency Plan

Creating a comprehensive emergency plan is essential. Discuss with your family the steps to take if a storm approaches. Include plans for elderly and disabled family members, and ensure all household members know what to do. Make sure to:

  • Identify evacuation routes and shelters.
  • Plan for communication if family members are separated.
  • Register for emergency alerts to receive timely updates.

3. Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit

A well-stocked disaster supply kit can be a lifesaver during and after a storm. Your kit should include:

  • Non-perishable food and water for at least three days.
  • Medications, first aid supplies, and personal hygiene items.
  • Flashlights, batteries, and a portable radio.
  • Important documents, such as insurance policies, medical records, and identification, stored in waterproof containers.
  • Supplies for pets, if applicable.

Keep your kit updated and make sure all family members know its location​ (VI Department of Health)​​ (VITEMA)​​ (Home)​.

4. Prepare Your Home

Strengthening your home against storm damage is vital. Take the following steps to safeguard your property:

  • Trim or remove trees and branches that could fall on your home.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any debris to prevent water damage.
  • Install storm shutters or board up windows to protect against flying debris.
  • Secure and reinforce the roof, doors, and garage doors.
  • Consider purchasing a portable generator for power outages, ensuring it is used safely and kept outside away from windows and doors​ (VI Department of Health)​​ (Home)​.

5. Stay Informed and Connected

Staying informed about weather updates and maintaining communication with family and emergency services is critical. Sign up for local alerts and warnings through VITEMA and other emergency management agencies. Follow official sources on social media for real-time updates.

6. Know the Difference: Watches vs. Warnings

Understanding the terminology used by weather services can help you respond appropriately:

  • Watch: Conditions are favorable for a storm. Begin making preparations.
  • Warning: A storm is imminent or occurring. Take immediate action to protect yourself and your property​ (VITEMA)​.

7. Community and Neighbor Support

In the aftermath of a storm, community support can be invaluable. Help neighbors secure their homes and share resources and information. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) can provide training on basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and medical operations​ (Home)​.


Preparation is the key to minimizing the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes on the Virgin Islands. By understanding the risks, developing a comprehensive plan, assembling a disaster supply kit, preparing your home, staying informed, and supporting your community, you can enhance your resilience against these natural disasters.

For more detailed information and resources, visit VITEMA’s website and FEMA’s hurricane preparedness page.

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