Nigeria: NiMet Warns of Possible Flight Disruptions Due to Heavy Rains

23 July 2021

With the rainy season in full bloom, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has warned that there would be more heavy rainfall in Lagos and other coastal areas in the country that might disrupt flight operations.

This is just as the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has assured that its navigational aids would enhance flight operations during the rains.

NiMET, in its latest weather update, stated that there would be more heavy rains in the coastal cities in southern Nigeria, including Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom and later Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

The agency said the synoptic causes indicated the presence of very deep vertical extent of moisture and moisture-laden winds up to about 3000m (700hPa) level in the atmosphere, coupled with instability vortices and trough lines that indicate more heavy rainfall.

"These features are usually accompanied by monsoonal rains otherwise referred to as continuous rainfall. The scale of these rains has been getting stronger spatially and temporally, hence leading to high impact and extreme weather events.

"On July 16, 2021, at around 0130GMT, according to the Nowcasting Satellite Application Facility (NWCSAF), pockets of mesoscale convective systems started developing over the Atlantic Ocean. The systems grew bigger, expanding northward and slowly moving westwards, making landfall at around 0545GMT over Lagos and its environs. The system further intensified, became quasi-stationary and started to produce rainfall around 0800GMT till around 1630GMT," NiMET said in a statement signed by the General Manager, Public Relations, Muntari Yusuf Ibrahim.

The agency said that during the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) held on the February 2, 2021, it projected a normal-to-above rainfall and followed with advisories on the socio-economic implications.

"As such, high volume and high intensity rainfall are expected. These are capable of faster saturation of the soil making it difficult to hold more volume of rainfall, hence excess runoffs with the ability to flood the environment. Nigerian Metrological Agency will continue to monitor the weather and give alerts as at when necessary, "NiMet said.

It described as highly unfortunate the heavy rain that occurred on July 16 in Lagos State and environs, which wrecked a yet to be financially quantified havoc, with properties such as vehicles and buildings washed away.

"It would be recalled that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Forecast Office had on the 14th of July 2021 made a three-day forecast and predicted cloudy skies are expected over the Inland and the coastal cities of the South with chances of morning rains over parts of Rivers, Cross River and AkwaI bom states later in the day rains are anticipated over parts of Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, Bayelsa, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.

"On the 15th of July 2021, forecast was made again with respect to Lagos state, this time there was development and the trajectory suggested that cloudy skies and rains are expected in the morning afternoon and evening. These forecasts anticipated a rainy day in the coastal city of Lagos state for 16th July 2021. Consequently, the eventual heavy rainfall that occurred in Lagos state on the 16th of July 2021 was expected, "NiMet explained.

However, the Managing Director of NAMA, Capt Fola Akinkuotu has assured air travelers that the agency has navigational aids and communication systems that would not be disrupted by the rain.

He, however, noted that rainfall could lower visibility, which could lead to flight delays and cancellation, but besides that NAMA has efficient equipment to guide flights to their destinations in the country under such heavy downpour.

Akinkuotu told THISDAY that the flooding in Lagos when it rained on July 16 was due to the blockage of drainages but noted that at the airports there ought to be drainages at the runway to drain water from it so that flights could proceed unhindered.

"The rains will not affect flight operations because we have navigational aids. So, as far as navigational aids are concerned, we are ready for the rains. Our equipment is electric, our radio can work, except in a situation where there is hurricane, which can destroy antennas. Our equipment will enhance flight operations but bad weather can affect visibility, so the equipment may be working but flights may not operate because of poor visibility.

"Our Instrument Landing System (ILS) can lead aircraft to the runway, if the aircraft has zero-zero visual capability it can land, but if the runway has flood it may lead to aquaplaning. So, to a good extent, we are ready, but poor visibility can affect flights but that has nothing to do with our equipment," he said.

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