Harmattan: Bird strikes, flight delays imminent, NiMET warns


As the dry season begins in most parts of the country, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency has issued a warning about possible bird strike incidents, flight delays, and cancellations.

The influx of migratory birds to the country from other parts of the world, according to NiMET, could result in bird strike incidents.

The Director-General of NiMET, Prof. Mansur Matazu, disclosed these on Wednesday in its forecast circular made available to newsmen.

The statement partly read, “Following weather report of observed movement of dust plumes from the source region (Niger and Chad) where dust-haze and haziness are prevalent, relatively low, visibility values are expected into the county within the next 24 hours; NiMET 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 characterised 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).

Advising airlines operators, NiMET said, “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 longer 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 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 with caution. “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,” it said.