We should not be caught napping
The Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMeT) recently warned that stormy rains are to be expected in the southern and central belts of the country in December. This is quite unusual because rains cease in most areas of the country by December. Even in areas that experience what geographers call “double maxima,” that is two rainfall peaks in a year, it hardly rains in December.
NiMeT said, “The general public is advised to avoid outdoor activities during this stormy weather as the strong winds may in some occasions uproot trees, damage electric poles and affect building roof tops. The southernmost parts of the country will however continue to experience rains till the third week of December. During this period, storms are expected to develop and will present as thunder with moderate to heavy rains and at times accompanied by strong surface winds of value up to (50knots) 100km/h.”
Meteorogical experts say the stormy rains being predicted by NIMET have not occurred in this country in the last decade, so it is an unusual weather situation indeed. The prediction should be taken seriously because in recent years NiMeT has improved on its weather forecast abilities. It accurately predicted the heavy rains and the devastating floods of 2012. Its prediction of light rains in the central states this year has also been borne out.
Usually there is a certain imprecision about weather forecasts, the science of weather forecasting being less precise than other natural sciences. Weather forecasts are also more precise when they are localized, so a general prediction covering whole regions such as “central states” or “southern states” may turn out to be inaccurate in some areas. Hence, we urge NiMeT to act within the available time to supply local communities with precise forecasts for their areas.
The most important thing for now is for all persons and authorities to get ready. Three years ago when the agency predicted heavy rains and the possibility of floods, people largely ignored the notice until the floods set in, killed some 300 persons and washed away thousands of homes and farmlands in several states. All stakeholders must therefore take full advantage of the warning this time around and adequately prepare for the storms and folds. The National Emergency Management Agency and State Emergency Management Agencies, being the principal public agencies responsible for disaster response, must not be caught napping this time around.
Citizens too have a very important role to play in response to this alert. It will be foolhardy to carry on as if nothing is impending, only to shout when the storms come that “government” has not done enough to avert disaster. As has often been explained, it is not so much the quantity of water that causes flooding as the blockage of drainage channels. It is everyone’s duty to ensure that drainage channels around his or her house are cleared for the water to pass. Communities that live in lowland areas would do well to evacuate in time before the storms set in. Since storms with very strong winds are predicted, everyone will do well to reinforce his roof and remove any hanging tree branches that are likely to topple over in a storm.
Farmers should also prepare for this unusual situation because such storms could destroy harvested farm produce that is still lying in the fields to dry. Tuber crops that are usually grown in that time of the year could also be adversely affected. December is also the time that maize and guinea corn are ripened by harmattan winds, so heavy rains at this time could easily destroy them. Agricultural extension agencies should rise to the occasion and explain to farmers what they should do in this situation.
NiMeT’s warning about the need to minimize outdoor activities during the storm period is also very important. December is Christmas period and a lot of travelling takes place in this country in December to be at home with loved ones. This year we must factor in the unusual weather in our travelling plans. All hands must be on deck. It will be too bad if, having been forewarned, we are again caught napping.