The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) has urged pilots and passengers to be wary of thunderstorms and other dangerous weather conditions following the onset of rains, stressing that thunderstorms can also cause delays, diversion, and cancellations of flights.
It noted that the effects of thunderstorms are dangerous to the aviation industry, particularly the aircraft operations, and passengers, adding that the threats extend to the safety of lives and property.
NiMet noted that rains currently prevalent in the Southern parts of Nigeria and occasionally around the central states, are usually accompanied by severe thunderstorms, which are bound to affect air navigation.
In a statement issued on Saturday by its General Manager in charge of Public Relations, Muntari Yusuf, the agency said: “NiMet predicted rainfall to be earlier than the long-term average in most parts of the country during the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP). The onset is expected to start from the coastal states of Bayelsa, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom in early March, progressively followed by the inland and central states.
“All of these pose significant threats to the safety of lives and property. The effects of thunderstorms are more hazardous to the aviation industry, particularly aircraft operations, and passengers. Thunderstorms can also cause delays, diversion, and cancellations of flights, as aircraft are often grounded in the face of severe weather,” it explained.
The statement further noted that the recent thunderstorms recorded in coastal and inland states showed that the agency’s predictions were on-point, reliable, and accurate.
NiMet further noted that for areas, where thunderstorms are expected, the weather hazard could cause significant disruptions, stressing that thunderstorms could lead to turbulence, lightning strikes, strong winds, heavy rainfall, down draught, microburst, and hailstones.
It said thunderstorms could also cause delays, diversions, and cancellations of flights, as aircraft are often grounded in the face of severe weather.
As a measure to mitigate the effects of thunderstorms on the aviation industry, the agency assured pilots, the aviation industry, and airport users that it had installed weather monitoring systems, thunder detectors, satellite receiving ground stations, and Automatic Weather Systems (AWS) across airports (and other stations) nationwide.
“Pilots and flight crew members should obtain adequate departure, en route, and destination weather information and briefing from NiMet offices before flight operations for effective planning in their air navigation operations.
“The agency has also developed various products and services to help track the thunderstorms and its attendant hazards. The Pilot Briefing Rooms are always available for services,” it added.
NiMet, therefore, advised all pilots and airline operators to exercise caution during flight operations and adverse weather due to the commencement of the rainy season.
Kasim Sumaina in Abuja