NIMET alerts airlines on poor visibility
WITH temperatures currently hovering between 36 and 42 degrees Celsius across the country, meteorologists and epidemiologists have warned of possible outbreak of some diseases that thrive in hot weather like meningitis, tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever, measles, chicken pox, boils, skin rashes, and even heart attack.
They have also stated that the hot weather and associated high humidity could cause deadly disease spread and high mortality rate in the poultry sub-sector.
The meteorologists said the hot weather was not unusual as the Earth transits between dry and rainy seasons, with the dusty atmosphere trapping moisture.
However, they said the moisture would soon saturate and overcome the hostility from the dust to form rains. They predicted rains for Lagos in the next four to five days.
The epidemiologists said although anyone could suffer from heat-related illness at any time, some individuals were at greater risk than others.
They recommended that special attention should be paid to infants, children, the aged, the mentally-challenged and the physically-ill, especially those suffering from heart disease or high blood pressure.
Also, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has observed that dust particles are currently flowing into the extreme northern part of the country and heading southwards.
Consequently, NIMET has alerted airline operators to take necessary precaution in their operations to avoid plane crashes.
The agency warned that the weather would be very hot in the northern part of the country next month while the rains would set in across the South-West in the same month, moving gradually to the North in May and June.
NIMET’s General Manager, Climate, Joseph Alozie, stated this yesterday in Abuja at a stakeholders’ meeting on weather forecast organised by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Also, NIMET has alerted on the probability of flash flooding in the northern part of the country.
Director-General of NEMA, Mohammed Sani-Sidi, issued the alert yesterday at a stakeholders’ workshop organised to analyse the Nigerian Meteorological Agency 2012 seasonal rainfall prediction and the crisis implication.
Sani-Sidi urged stakeholders and relevant government agencies to take note in order to avert disaster in the country.
Alozie disclosed that the dust episode would reduce horizontal visibility and probably cause flight disruption with the next 24 hours and advised airline operators, road users and those allergic to dust to take precaution during this period.
However, he stated that the development was a passing phase, as the dust would clear up in due course.
Meanwhile, residents of Ilorin, Kwara State, have expressed concern over the sudden change in weather in the town, resulting in excessive heat in the day and at night.
The situation has been exacerbated by a recent sudden decline in electricity supply to densely populated parts of the ancient town, forcing residents of the affected areas out of their rooms at nights.
The worst hit areas are Sango, Sabo-Oke, Fate, Basin, Gaa Akanbi and Offa Garage.
Pastor Enoch Adebiyi, an octogenarian and a retired vicar of Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) who lives in the Eleboto area of Sango, said: “We are under a very serious heat condition here. We have our bath three to four times daily. The volume of water in our well has drastically reduced. We can no longer sleep inside our rooms at nights. They are like ovens.
“To aggravate our plight, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) gives 15 minutes power supply daily now. I had never seen this type of heat in my 82 years on earth. Government has to do something positive to save us.”
A lecturer in the Department of Geography, University of Ilorin, Raheem Jimoh, said the excessive heat could not be unconnected with the “intensive heating of the Earth surface.”
Jimoh advised people to drink more water, wear light attires, bath regularly and keep their rooms well ventilated at night until the rainy season will start in the town.
According to the epidemiologists, a number of research studies had established that hot weather increases the risk of heart attacks in people with risk factors for heart diseases even as it can cause heat-related disorders like heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Chief Meteorologist at Central Forecast Office, NIMET, Oshodi, Abayomi Oyegoke, and Deputy General Manager, National Weather Office, Abuja, Cyprian Okoloye, told The Guardian yesterday that March was usually the hottest month of the year, with average temperature in the South cresting 36 degrees Celsius and 39 degrees Celsius in the North.
Okoloye said: “Usually between February and March is the transition period in the South. We normally expect high temperatures. The dust haze is gradually going off but occasionally you expect it. It is worse in the northern part of the country.
“We forget too soon but it was like this last year. We have not seen any abnormality yet. The high rate of sweating and high humidity is associated with hot weather. In the next four to five days we may likely have showers.”
Listing some precautionary palliative measures, Chief Epidemiologist, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr. Henry Akpan, said: “Try good ventilation. Windows should be open. Take plenty of water for rehydration, keep good hygiene, keep environment clean, run away from anything that will bring in diseases, and avoid over-crowding in rooms. Very important is proper coughing and sneezing ethics. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.”