Airline operators and travelers have been put on the alert for the most likely impact of Harmattan Haze on air travel as the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) warned of disruption of flight operations due to the onset of harmattan in some parts of the country.
The agency in its forecast said air turbulence, bird strikes would combine to cause flight delays and cancellations.
The agency also said airline operators should plan adequately for fuel as the amount of fuel consumed by the aircraft would be more this period.
This is contained in an advisory signed by the General Manager, Public Relations of the Agency, Muntari Ibrahim.
According to the forecast, “Following weather report of observed movement of dust plumes from the source region (Niger and Chad ) where dust-haze and haziness, in relatively low visibility values, are expected into the county within the next 24 hours, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency alerts the public of the possible commencement of the dry season otherwise called the harmattan season in most parts of the north”.
“The climate of Nigeria is characterized by two distinct seasons; the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season usually lasts between late February and Early November in the South with a little break between late July and Mid-August, while it lasts between late May to early Mid October in the North.
“Beyond this period, between the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the next rainy season is the dry season, which is what is unfolding.
“In the next 24 hours, there are good prospects of dust haze (in moderate horizontal visibility, 2000m – 5000m) over Maiduguri, Yobe, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa States, while other northern states (including North-central) could report sunny & hazy (visibility of 5–7km).
“It is expected that this weather condition will persist for the next 3 days. Worthy of note is the observed gradual increase of the Day-Time Temperature”.
On its advice to airline operators, the agency stated: “Airline operators are advised to get updated weather reports from NiMet offices for effective planning of their operations because with the warmer temperatures, there are higher chances of clear air turbulence.
“Hot weather results in the long distance on the runway to generate enough lift for flight take-off. This increases fuel consumption and requires adequate planning by operators.
“During the dry season, there could be increased chances of bird strike due to the influx of migratory birds. This constitutes a hazard to flight operations.
“With reduced visibilities, flight delays or cancellations, in compliance with safety regulations may not be unexpected.”
The agency also warned motorists to drive cautiously. “As the dry season begins, NiMet advises stakeholders and indeed the general public that in places where visibility is impaired by dust haze, motorists should drive cautiously.
“Motorists are also advised to adhere to recommended tyre pressure by the manufacturers, especially during the hot days to safeguard against tyre burst.”
The agency also warned people with respiratory issues to apply necessary caution, especially for outdoor activities.
NiMet however assured that it will keep track of the weather changes and provide updates when necessary.