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The Nigerian Meteorological Agency has predicted lower-than-normal rainfall over most parts of Nigeria in 2019 with expected late start of rains in the north.

The agency also said the south-eastern zone and the coastal areas would experience normal onset of rains.

Presenting NiMet’s 2019 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction on Thursday, in Abuja, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said most of the northern states would experience earlier than normal end growing season.

Sirika added that shorter length of the growing season was predicted for most parts of the country, with frequent and severe dry spell over the northern region during the rainy season.

According to him, these are risk factors for farmers in the affected areas and have to be carefully and scientifically managed.

He said: “It is necessary to state that the expected below normal-normal rainfall in parts of the country does not rule out the possibility of isolated flash floods.

“This is due to high intensity rainfall at the peak of the season, especially in places that are naturally prone to flooding.

“It is also important to note that in every season, dry spells occur and in certain cases, lead to crop losses.

“In this regard, I wish to urge our farmers and other stakeholders to get in touch with NiMet to access Meteorological advisories and updates within the growing season.”

Sirika said that early release of this vital information such as SRP before the beginning of rainy season was to ensure effective harnessing of the climate resource.

He added that such information would also guarantee minimal losses from associated hazards, which were becoming quite devastating in this era of climate Change.

The minister stated that it was on record that an increase of at least 30 per cent agricultural yields could be achieved if the relevant meteorological information was utilised.

He quoted the World Bank as saying “for every dollar invested in early warning services on weather, about seven dollars is saved from cost of disaster management.

“For more effective service delivery, NiMet has continued to acquire modern weather observing, monitoring and forecasting infrastructure.

“Notable among these are the upgrading of the Doppler Weather Radar, increasing stations density from 54 to more than 100, installation of more than 50 Automatic Weather Stations and the Lightning Detecting instrument.

“NiMet also installed the Low Level Wind Shear Alert system amongst many other improved instrumentation and forecasting techniques.

“Studies have shown that in spite of the increasing number of disasters, with innovative advancement in such EWS facilities, the number of casualties can be significantly reduced by 10 per cent.’’

The Director General of NiMet, Prof. Sani Mashi, said that 2019 was expected to experience rainfall deficit with varying magnitude for most parts, especially northward.

Mashi said the situation would have impact on the timing of the onset and cessation of the growing season, adding that a shorter length of season with low rainfall amount was expected over the country.

He added that the earliest onset date was predicted to be from March 7 around the coastal region of the south-south.

He said: “The onset dates are expected to change as we move northwards with areas around Maiduguri, Sokoto, Katsina, Dutse, Potiskum, Kano and Nguru, but this delay is likely to be more evident in the northern states.

“The earliest cessation dates are expected to be from Sept. 29 around the north-western parts of the country.

“Most of the north is expected to witness cessation dates within October, while the growing season is expected to end between late October and mid-November.

“Parts of the central and southern states are expected to experience end of season by mid-November to early December while along the coast, the season is expected to end by late December.’’

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