Sahara dust in the Dominican Republic 2020

Dominican Republic, English

Approximate reading time: 3 minutes


First I thought about a bad joke I didn’t understand for the first time. Sahara dust in the Caribbean. How can Sahara dust reach the Caribbean and affect its weather conditions? We are talking about two continents who are a few thousand miles distant from each other. Photos from the press might show you the typical Caribbean beaches and cities that appear grey during these days. But I was in Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic which is up in the mountains. And my photos will maybe show a different part of the Dominican Republic – But in the end, it shined grey and dull under the Sahara dust in the Caribbean, too.

Jarabacoa isn’t the typical place you would associate a Caribbean destination with. We talk about a city of 70,000 inhabitants, which is more a group of spaciously scattered villages in the Dominican highlands. Located on 1,700 ft (530 m) above the sea level, you’ll encounter different climate conditions and vegetation in comparison to the coastal area of Santo Domingo. Usually, Jarabacoa looks the following:

Jarabacoa usually looks like that

Deeply green colors, lusciously looking plants, and flowers, and a lot of body of waters represent the area around Jarabacoa. It is a famous and popular area for ecologic and adventurous vacations. With the circumstances of the Sahara dust in the Caribbean, I couldn’t think of any vacations but rather staying at home. Thanks to the Sahara dust, the same area looked the following:

Same place, different day: No comparison to the lushly green colors from the picture before

I thought, that this is just one of these days with clouds bands and occasional showers. Something pretty normal in the mountains that pass after a few hours. But this natural phenomenon remained for two full days and demoralized a little bit due to missing rays of the sun.

But it was not only the absence of the sun and the missing clear blue sky. The air circulated less, breathing got more difficult and the raising pollution couldn’t leave the ground. A few bonus degrees in temperature and a higher humidity was the unwanted result. I felt reminded of what people said before about cities like Tokyo or Shanghai where everything is covered beneath a dust plume.

The river 'Yaque del Norte' during the Sahara dust in the Caribbean.
Yaque del Norte during the Sahara dust in the Caribbean

Jarabacoa under the influence of Sahara dust in the Caribbean.
Jarabacoa during the Sahara dust in the Caribbean

The good news was, that everything passed already after two days. After this short period, the landscape looked happy and vivid again and cast off its opressive and hueless veil. Back to the normal green nature again.

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