The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has announced that the severity of harmattan period would be higher and longer over the northern states due to its proximity to the Sahara Desert compared to the south in 2018/2019 dry season.
Director General of NiMet, Prof. Sani Mashi, who gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Thursday, November 15, 2018, said that rainfall was expected to linger over the southern cities till December.
He explained that the surface pressure had been increasing over the northern Africa and strong surface north-easterly wind was gradually building up over the southern Chad and Niger Republic, which are the source regions of dust affecting Nigeria.
According to him, some cities in the northern parts of the country are already experiencing hazy conditions with continental wind dominating the region, while south westerly wind still prevails over the southern states and some central cities.
“During the Harmattan season, sunny and hazy conditions are expected over the northern states and central cities down to the inland cities of the southern parts with thick dust haze conditions which can impair horizontal visibility to less than 1000m (1km).
“The harmattan season is characterised by the prevalence of dry and dusty wind consisting of fine particulate matters emanating from the Sahara Desert blowing southward into the country.
“The severity of the dry season will be higher and longer over the North due to its proximity to the Sahara Desert compared to the south where rainfall is expected to last till December in some cities,” he said.
Mashi warned that the expected reduction in visibility in the coming weeks might disrupt flight operations through cancellation and delay of flights at some airports across the country.
He advised road users to be careful and avoid speeding, especially during early morning period when horizontal visibility would be impaired by fog, mist or dust haze.
According to him, these weather conditions can increase traffic congestion or even cause accidents.
“Day time temperatures are anticipated to increase across the country accompanied by decrease night time temperatures resulting in cold nights.
“Similarly, dryness is anticipated due to expected reduction in humidity and cloud cover.
“Surface winds are also expected to be stronger, especially over the northern parts of the country,” he said.
Mashi also disclosed that bush burning should be avoided as the dryness and strong wind could increase fire incidences and cause severe crop damage at harvesting period.
He explained that dust haze could lead to deterioration of air quality with adverse effects on human health as it could trigger asthma and bronchitis attacks as well as cause cold, cough, catarrh, and meningitis.
According to him, those suffering from these health conditions or allergic to dust are advised to take necessary precautions and take their medications to alleviate its effect on their health.
“The public are advised to take adequate water during the harmattan period to avoid dehydration and heatstroke,” he said.
Mashi said that cloudy to partly cloudy conditions with scattered thunderstorms were still expected to prevail over the coastal regions till mid-December with occasional dust haze condition.
The director general added that occasional early morning fog and mist were also expected over the southern cities.
By Sumaila Ogbaje