The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has predicted that the air transport sector may not experience significant negative impact during the harmattan season of 2013, but added however that there will be minor delays in flights due to reduced horizontal visibility in dust haze in some airports in the country.
Director-General of NIMET, Dr. Anthony Anuforom, who presented the 2013 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction in Abuja, advised airline operators to regularly obtain meteorological reports regularly in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard and recommended practices.
Anuforom advised pilots to exercise great caution and heed the weather advisories provided by NIMET during the onset and cessation periods of the rainy season when thunderstorms would be prevalent and severe with associated turbulence.
The NIMET boss explained that there may be above normal rainfall in four states of the federation in comparison with that of 2012.
Auforom also stated that Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara and their environs were likely to have above normal rainfall and advised relevant authorities to always use NIMET's updates to control possible adverse impact.
He declared that the prediction of normal rainfall for the country does not rule out chances of abnormal conditions in some states as experienced in the previous year, adding that catchment areas of River Niger and parts of the Niger Delta in particular have higher chances of having more rains in 2013 than the previous year.
Anuforom also advised people around the areas to ensure early planning with respect to sensitisation, preparedness, mitigation and funding in order to reduce the risk of likely weather hazards anticipated over such areas.
On agriculture, the NIMET boss said the season would be good for farmers in crop production across the country and urged them to commence field establishment of their crops within the period when the rains have fully set in except for tuber root crops.
He noted that dry spells were likely to occur in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Yobe and Borno states, particularly in the month of June 2013 and called on farmers in these states to apply caution when planting and to seek guidance from appropriate authorities to prevent economic loss.
In his remarks, the chairman Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma, commended NIMET for being up and doing without failing the country.
Uzodinma recalled that NIMET issued several warnings on the possibilities of flooding last year in different parts of the country, which claimed so many lives across the country.
He noted that the predictions of NIMET were accurate and to the point hence the agency was able to identify areas prone to flooding before the incident.
The lawmaker called on Nigerians to take NIMET's predictions very seriously, noting that if it was taken very seriously, the wanton loss of lives in years flooding would have been mitigated.
He explained that NIMET due to its critical and crucial role in the country, should be properly funded and urged that the management of the agency to take all necessary steps to ensure that they acquire all requisite technology needed in the weather condition observations.
Senator Uzodinma assured the committee's assistance to facilitate the enhancement of the agency, stating that section 7; sub section 1C of the NIMET establishment Act 2003, empowered it to issue weather forecast for safe operations of aircraft.
He disclosed that the NIMET Act would be amended to make it mandatory as law for departments of government to obtain NIMET predictions when they are released as it would help to strengthen various institutions.