By Chinelo Obogo
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, (NiMet) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have warned pilots and airlines on hazards of dry weather.
In a statement last night, NiMET warned the public on the possibility of deterioration in horizontal visibility as a result of thick dust haze propagated into the country from the source region in Niger.
The agency’s General Manager Public Relations, Muntari Yusuf Ibrahim, advised airline operators to avail themselves of weather reports from NiMet for effective planning in their operations. NiMet latest weather advisory from its Central Forecast Office (CFO) indicates that “favourable conditions for Dust-Haze propagations into the nation will worsen horizontal visibility.
It said stations in Niger (Maine-Soroa, Goure, Maradi, N-guigmi, Diffa and 61091) and Chad (Ndjamena) have both persistently reported Dust-Haze with poor horizontal visibility. In the next few hours, strong winds at 800m will spread more dust into the country”.
Strong winds at 800m are expected to transport the dust to the country, particularly the North and North-central regions.
The release further disclosed that satellite images obtained indicates that in the next 24 hours, there are prospects of thick dust haze over Katsina, Kano, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Borno and Adamawa; while other Northern and North central states are expected to report moderate dust-haze (visibility of 2–5km). This weather condition is expected to persist for the next 72 hours. The Day-Time Temperature (Max) over the country is expected to fall as a result of plume of dust.
It advised members of the public to take necessary precautions due to dust particles presently in suspension over the atmosphere. Also, individuals with respiratory ailments are advised to protect themselves as the current weather condition is not good for their health. Night-time cold temperatures should be expected so warm clothes are advised for little children.
This was followed by an Advisory Circular (AC) with reference no AC: NCAA-AEROMET-34 signed by the Director General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu initiated by the Directorate of Aerodrome and Airspace Standards (DAAS) addressed to all Pilots and Airline Operators.
The Advisory circular is sequel to the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) issued by NiMET which reported that cessation of rainfall and weather associated with dry season in Nigeria from late December 2022 to March/April 2023.
The circular is intended to alert pilots about the nature of weather associated with the dry season in Nigeria ranging from light/moderate to severe dust haze and sometimes early morning fog which can sometimes reduce the horizontal visibility to below the aerodrome operating minima.
With the issuance of this circular, Advisory Circular AC: NCAA – AEROMET 33 is accordingly cancelled.
The CAA enumerated are effects of hazardous weather on flight operations to include: Air-to-ground visibility reduction due to haze dust or fog; Aerodrome visibility may fall below the prescribed operating minima and in severe conditions, dust haze can blot out runways, markers and airfield lightings over wide areas making visuals navigation extremely difficult or impossible; and Flights are bound to be delayed, diverted or cancelled where terminal visibility falls below the prescribed aerodrome operating minima.
The regulatory agency further said that all pilots, operators and air traffic controllers are obliged to abide by these safety requirements from closure of the airspace by Air Traffic Controllers when any of these conditions in are observed or forecast by NIMET; to strict adherence to published aerodrome weather minima by Flight Crews/Operators and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).
“Pilots/Flight Crew members shall obtain adequate departure, en-route and destination weather information and briefing from NIMET Aerodrome Meteorological Offices and Stations prior to flight operations and exercise maximum restraint whenever an adverse weather is observed; and
“Operators shall ensure that all necessary measures are put in place to cushion the effects of delay or cancellations on their passengers.
“While the Authority urges all passengers to exercise patience and understanding during this period as their safety is of utmost importance, stakeholders should ensure strict compliance to this Advisory Circular as violations would be viewed seriously,” NCAA said.