Abimbola Akosile in Lagos and Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Sani Mashi, has warned Nigerians to prepare for more flooding in different parts of the country, which can lead to poor crops production and harvest this year.
Mashi, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said more states would be susceptible to flood as the rainy season continued.
According to the NiMet boss, there would be a prolonged spell of dry season toward the end of the growing season when there will be no rainfall.
He said only few crops could tolerate excess amount of water, adding that some crops could be completely washed away, if they were submerged for long period, since they survive on sunshine.
Meanwhile, the agency’s Acting General Manager, Mrs.Theresa Oshie has alerted the public to brace up for an impending flood, in which parts of the country will be affected when the torrential rain begins unabated. The NiMet Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) indicates that the first part of July, 2017 will witness significant heavy rain across the country.
This was as result of the line separating the dry Easterly winds and the moist South Westerly winds (Inter Tropical Discontinuity) oscillating between latitude 16o N and 19.5 o N with mean position of 17.9 o N. The Northern Hemispheric High (Saharan High) weakened in the period with a gradual retreat to the Mediterranean Sea/Europe in favour of the northward push of the Inter Tropical Discontinuity.
Mashi emphasised the effects of the downpour: “Those crops that may be able to stand and survive flood may be caught up by the dry spell that will eventually occur and there may be serious damage to crop yields. During flooding, crops are forced to absorb water more than necessary and the implication is that many crops cannot survive and if they survive, the yield will be seriously affected. Cocoa, for instance, is rain forest crop; but unfortunately, it does not survive in the rain forest areas that receives higher amount of rainfall because of seasonal flooding. If you have serious case of flooding, it means the standing crops will be forced to accommodate water more than they can absorb which will affect the performance of the crops.
Unlike the cereal crops that can be submerged, cocoa cannot be submerged completely.’’
The agency, in its 2017 Seasonal Rainfall Predictions (SRP), had warned that the recent trend in climate would result in tremendous alteration in the rainfall pattern in the country. He said while rainfall was expected to be spread over a long period of time, because it started late, high amount were received in the early part in the part of the season. The implication is that if higher amount of rain is received, it means more rains is received more than what the ground can contain.
“It means that chances of flood generation will be high; we have alerted that there is going to be risk of flooding, especially in areas that there are major rivers. Recently, you recall that it happened in Tafa in Suleja, because it is within the region of River Gurara and that is why it was vulnerable to flooding.”
In order to mitigate the effects of the flooding, the agency cautioned members of the public to desist from blocking the water ways and flood plains (building of structures, refuse dumping and other unwholesome acts) and ensure that drainage systems in their environment are cleared.
The NiMet report revealed that, “The Southern Hemispheric High (ST. Helena High) encroached northwards with its 1015 hPa Isoline extending to the coastal cities of Nigeria thus enhancing the influx of moisture inland at the surface as well as in the vertical at the 925 hPa level (approx. 900m above ground) level up to 850hPa (1500m) were engulfed by moist maritime winds in the period except on the 4th that continental winds were observed at the 850hPa.
“These favourable monsoon conditions led to accumulation of adequate moisture in the atmosphere and subsequently precipitated in large amount that the soil could not absorb thus causing the flooding that hit Lagos, Niger, Abuja and some other parts of the country with its attendant destruction of lives and property.
Oshie said: “It is pertinent to note that Victoria Island (Marine station) recorded one fall of 176.5mm rain on the 8th of July and Lagos Roof near Tafawa Balewa Square had 132.8mm on same day. Same stations had recorded heavy rainfall the previous day, July 7th with amount of 69.8mm and 65.6mm respectively which lead to the reported flooding. The current soil moisture condition across the country shows prospects of moderate to severe run-off over Kaduna, Benue, Anambra, Delta, Gombe, Zamfara and Northern Yobe between July and September, 2017.”
NiMet promised to continuously monitor the weather conditions as they unfold and provide regular updates and advisories to the public.