THE hot afternoons, sweaty nights and cold early mornings being experienced in some parts of the country will herald long and severe harmattan, say meteorologists at the Central Forecast Office of the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Oshodi, Lagos.
They said that Nigerians should expect “proper” harmattan but not before some periods of rain this December.
The Chief Meteorologist at the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, Mr. Abayomi Akinkunmi Oyegoke, told The Guardian: “At this period of the year, what we should be looking towards to is transition from summer period into winter period. Then during winter season, we will be experiencing what we characterise as harmattan and at times it may be associated with dust because of the origin of the weather.
“What we are saying in earnest is that there is change in the major trade wind. We are noticing changes in the major trade wind. We have been experiencing South Westerly trade wind which is the one that is laden with moisture and that is why we have been experiencing what we call rainy season. North Easterly trade wind is now trying to take over the South Westerly.
“During this period, the origin is from Europe, the cold region and it is blowing coldness into our atmosphere and that is why we have been feeling cold. But with what we are observing at night, we will experience heat accompanied by sweating because of the transition period. It has not properly taken shape.”
Reacting to NIMET’s earlier prediction that the rains would continue until November into December, the meteorologist said: “You know it is a prediction. We are already in December. By and large, with our prediction, we have tried our best. It is a distinction.”
On whether the long and heavy rains the country has had this year would affect the duration and severity of the harmattan season, Oyegoke said: “When it comes and in whatever form it comes, it is our duty to inform the public through the media that it is coming. But now, we are in the transition period. We are looking forward to the arrival of the harmattan.”
He refused to predict the nature of the coming harmattan, but said: “You know summer season has its own part to play, which it has played. So, let us wait for the winter as well. When it comes, in whatever form it will take, let us not just presume.”
On the consequences of the weather in terms of health and agriculture, Oyegoke said: “Health wise, there will be severe cold mixed with dust so people with asthma should take precaution because this is the period when they will be inhaling all sorts of dust. People that are allergic to cold should look for a thick cloth that can cover them up.
“Actually, agriculture has benefited from the heavy and long rain that we have had. All they need now is to be enjoying the harvest that they made.”
The meteorologist added: “It is the transition of the weather, there is no problem. Climate change is playing its part, that is why I said all hands are on deck in monitoring it and in whatever form it takes, you will be the first to know.
“You can see this transition period is coming early, so it is showing a sign that there will be what we call proper harmattan. But we don’t want to predetermine what form it will take. But people should look.”