The Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Mansur Matazu, said his agency embarked on an aggressive Low-Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS) project after the Sosoliso crash of December 10, 2005.
He described it as a phenomenon that was very ‘dicey’ and ‘dynamic’ because the accident happened within seconds.
Wind shear can occur at many different levels of the atmosphere, however, it is most dangerous at the low levels, as a sudden loss of airspeed and altitude can occur. Plenty of altitude is normally needed to recover from the stall produced by the abrupt change in wind speed and direction, which is why pilots need to be aware of the hazards and mitigation of low-level wind shear.
On the afternoon of December 10, 2005, a landmark aircraft accident occurred at the Port-Harcourt International Airport.
The tragic accident which killed 109 passengers including 60 students of Jesuit Loyola College Abuja onboard Flight 1145 was responsible for making “wind shear” a more commonly known weather phenomenon in Nigeria and implementing many new changes with regard to wind shear detection.
Speaking to New Telegraph in his office in Abuja last week, the agency, Matazu said, had installed LLWAS in 18 airports across the country.
He, however, expressed worry over the carting away of the multi-million dollar weather equipment by vandals, noting that it was one of the challenges faced by the agency.
“Here comes the challenge, at times before you finish a project, you are already experiencing vandalism. In Port Harcourt, they cut the whole mast from the base. In Lagos, even within the airport perimeter, we recorded vandalisation, but we were able to weather through the storm.
“One, we are working on alternative technology even though it is very expensive. It is called Terminal Doppler Radar. We are also devising what we call a north-central approach which helps us to study cloud physics over any area in the country.
“With the cloud physics knowledge, you would know whether cloud could result into microburst and it is from microburst from an entire set of clouds that we could have wind shear,” he said.
The NiMet boss further disclosed that the agency engaged a United Kingdom partner from the University of Leeds to acquire the knowledge after the acquisition of the new platform.
“So, we have done the initial test-running of the process and we want to go into large scale to complement the LLWAS. So it is one of our critical projects and every time, every period you see us running around, trying to get it,” he said.
On vandalism, he reiterated engagement in community policing, which has produced significant improvement with regard to security, and also the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other paramilitary authorities, which he said had been involved and helping out.
On what measures Nigeria should adopt to escape the Morocco and Libyan disasters that claimed over 12, 000 lives, Matazu explained that earthquake was a geophysical phenomenon and not influenced by atmospheric process.
On the other hand, he pointed out that climate change and global warming were just like malaria, and signs of malaria with no relationship with the geophysics that happened within the earth cross.
“We are lucky Nigeria is not among them. Secondly, our system in Nigeria is a consistent system, so we don’t expect such a high level of intensity of activities as we have seen in Libya. Libya used to be a dry area, at times they experienced only 25 millimeters of rain that can fall in two hours in Abuja is what Libya would experience in a year.
“Imagine because of the issue of climate change increasing temperature, increasing condensate activities and increasing the possibility of having high-intensity storms over Europe, this was as a result of the passage of a bigger storm over Europe that created a very long pressure over the Sahara Desert.
“With high energy because of the solar radiation in it coupled with dust in the atmosphere that they have a lot of Sahara and a lot of particles so that developed into a very severe system that impounded the area. The area that had been dry for several decades, several centuries, now experienced flooding.
“We don’t expect much of that intensity, but definitely there are pieces of evidence of climate change in the country in our case we are being influenced by high-intensity rain that results in flash floods within cities and villages and riverine communities as a result of prolonged rain and also inflow of water from neighbouring countries as a result of opening of dams,” he added.