By Ignatius Ushie
As the rainy season commences in parts of the country, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), has warned pilots and the general public to be wary of thunderstorms and other hazardous weather events.
In a Press Release, the agency says this is in line with the public presentation of the Seasonal Climate Prediction made by the agency in January this year.
“NiMet predicted rainfall onset to be earlier than the long-term average in most parts of the country during the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP).
“The onset is expected to start from the coastal states of Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom in early March, progressively followed by the inland states and the Central states.”
It also noted that the recent thunderstorms recorded over parts of the coastal and inland states showed that the agency’s prediction is on-point, reliable and accurate.
NiMet further cautioned that for areas where thunderstorms are expected, this weather hazard could cause significant disruptions, stressing that thunderstorms can lead to turbulence, lightning strikes, strong winds, heavy rainfall, downdraught, microburst, and hailstones.
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“All of these pose significant threats to safety of lives and property. The effects of thunderstorms are more hazardous to aviation industry, particularly the aircraft operations and passengers.
“Thunderstorms can also cause delays, diversion and cancellations of flights, as aircraft are often grounded in the face of severe weather.”
The agency assures pilots, the aviation industry, and airport users that it has installed weather monitoring systems, thunder detectors, satellite receiving ground stations and Automatic Weather Systems (AWS) across the airports (and other stations) nationwide as a measure to mitigate the effects of thunderstorms to the aviation industry.
The agency has also developed various products and services to help track thunderstorms and its attendant hazards. The Pilot Briefing Rooms are always available for Services, it noted.
NiMet, therefore, advises all Pilots and Airline Operators to exercise caution during flight operations (during this adverse weather) due to the commencement of the rainy season.
The rains which are currently prevalent in the Southern parts of Nigeria and occasionally around the Central States are usually accompanied by severe thunderstorms, which are bound to affect air navigation.
NiMet enjoins Pilots/Flight Crew members to obtain adequate departure, en route and destination weather information and briefing from NiMet offices prior to flight operations for effective planning in their air navigation operations.