The current extremes of weather presentations experienced in various locations are worrying. I watched a video during a training in Denver, Colorado where it rained so much that a warehouse the size of a stadium was washed away following a heavy rain. This is our new reality: extremes of weather.
Nigeria is not left out in this environmental drama of extreme weather patterns.
It is obviously clear now that there is climate change, more than ever before we need to get serious as a nation. Whether you are rich or poor environmental catastrophe doesn’t discriminate against race, economic status or gender.
A case of snow was sent to me by my uncle who knew I had received intense training on climate change outside the country. He claimed on the 19th March 2017 which happened to be my birthday that it snowed after a thunderstorm for almost an hour in a remote village called Umuayaka, in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo state Nigeria. I immediately started looking into the this strange story only to hear that a similar episode occurred one week later (March 25th) in Ado-Ekiti.
A day after the Ekiti State incident, there was also an alleged incident in Ndu area in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, Ndungamantung Division. I was then forced to research about all these cases with emphasis on Imo State, Nigeria and then write a response to these allegations, since it appeared that the Meteorological Agency of Nigeria and relevant agencies were not forthcoming and Nigerians were already in their usual uninformed state due to no fault of theirs.
It is the responsibility of the metrological agency to give accurate technologically supported forecast to avert environmental disasters that usually arise when nations are not fully prepared.
Even when nations are prepared environmental disasters still end up causing havoc.
People must start doing the job they are paid to do and stop draining government funds for services they can’t render. This is a wakeup call. Proper weather forecast can help Nigerians plan well their day by avoid injuries and help them stay safe. It can help the already moribund agricultural sector organize their farming seasons since extreme cold can destroy the variables or element that support agriculture or the rainforest.
Consequent, in other to explain to the common man and woman what happened in both days in the south east and south west part of Nigeria there is need to understand first how snows are formed. After the understanding of how snow is formed with the various aberration that can exist. Only then can we move on to collect the environment variables that where present during those days and try to answer whether it snow or not?
For the records it did not SNOW in the rainforest belt of Africa but HAILSTONE FELL in the rainforest belt.
After all these likely explanations then have to ask why such extreme weather patterns manifesting in area known to be tropical rainforest region and what government need to do immediately.
Snow usually forms in the clouds and occurs where the temperature is below freezing point, clouds consist of water vapour a gaseous state of water (H2O).
In cold weather, the conditions are right for the water vapour to turn directly from its gaseous status into solid ice crystals. How those that occur, I will explain now, at higher temperatures, water vapor molecules generate high kinetic energy to overcome any bonding forces that would hold them as a liquid.
However whenever the temperature gets extremely low, the molecules of the water vapour gather into a solid ice crystal structure. As the freezing temperature continues in the cloud, solid ice crystals organize themselves by binding to one another to form SNOW CRYSTAL. This process of transformation from water vapour to a solid state is known as deposition.
SNOW CRYSTALS OR SNOWFLAKES that drop from the sky through the process stated above are usually fluffy the dry air then produce powdery snow that doesn’t stick together.
When wind is combined with heavy snow falling can now become a blizzards and drifts. This fluffy nature of snow is formed around and above the freezing level where the air temperature is less than 32 F where it begins to fall toward the ground as snow. If the planetary temperature is above 32 F, then falling ice crystal that passes through into the warmer air will melt and change to become rain before reaching the ground.
So when the air temperature at the ground level is far less than 32 F, the resulting precipitation will result into SNOWFLAXES.
Therefore temperature level is primarily a factor in the formation of SNOW but more importantly cold air is important if snow must fall but not necessarily the temperature we feel when at the ground level. Snow thus is created when the atmospheric temperature is at or below freezing (0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit) with the minimum presence of moisture in the air.
Furthermore , in making a weather forecast during this process of natural interactions, if temperatures are expected to be above freezing, then rain is most likely going to form. However, if temperatures are expected to be below freezing, then the forecast of snow is the likely scenario.
ABERRATIONS THAT CAN EXIST WHEN TEMPERATURE IS BELOW FREEZING POINT; They are the SLEET, FREEZING RAIN AND HAILSTONE
1. SLEET; Sleet is rain or melted snow that freezes into ice pellets before hitting the ground. Sleet only happens under very specific weather conditions which is occurs Sleet forms when rain passes through a cold layer of air causing it to freeze into ice pellets.
In a complex process involving the elements started above there must be a layer of air near the ground whose temperature is way below freezing, where water turns to ice. Above this layer of freezing air must be a layer of warmer air.
As snow falls through the warm air, it melts or partially melts into raindrops. As the melted snow falls through the cold layer of air, it re-freezes forming sleet is so light and tiny it usually bounces before hitting the ground as ice pellet. They occur majorly during the winter season, when warmer air is naturally forced over a layer of cold air.
2.FREEZING RAIN; also falls through a cold layer of air close to the ground, if the temperature in the clouds is not cold enough to create snow then it starts to rain. The rain in question does not freeze until it touches the object.
An example is seen during winter season when trees outside are coated with jackets of ice crystal, this is the making of the freezing rain, it implies that the rain was liquid when it landed on the tree branch, then suddenly froze to ice a more solid state upon contact with the leaves, this aberration is called the freezing rain.
3. HAIL STONES; they are sleet-like collection of ice pellets, an aberration that occurs in warmer weather condition such as summer and springs, usually present during heavy thunderstorms period.
They start off as small ice particles or frozen raindrops that are caught in the upward current or draft of air inside the cloud called a updraught. An updraught is updraft is a small‐scale current of rising air, often within a cloud.
In warmer climes or seasons sure as summer when warm air moves around area that have high temperature especially, precipitations increases and water rise as wet air rise, these scenery often leads to formation of massive clouds and can cause thunderstorms and if the conditions are right it can also support formation of HAILSTONE.
HAILSTONES are formed when thunderstorm updrafts are strong enough to carry water droplets well above the freezing level.
As the hailstone ascend they grow by holding water on their surface, the process is freezing and a hailstone, they can grow with additional binding of water as it freezes. Eventually, the hailstone becomes too large that the updrafts cannot support its weight then it begins its decent to earth surface and hitting the ground as a collection of ice.
Consequently, the size of the hailstones depends on how strong and extensive the upward current or draft of air is and how much water is in the cloud. In vigorous clouds the hailstones may go up and down a number of times, adding a layer of ice each time.
Eventually they become so heavy that they can no longer be supported by the updraught and will fall to the ground. Some hailstones can be as big as 6 inches in diameter and can damage property and crops.
These hail stones form in the atmosphere, unlike the close relative sleet forms during winter but forms properly as it begins its decent to the ground. There is an important characteristic that the HAILSTONES have, they freezes from inside to out, while SLEET freezes from the outside to in.
This may be the likely explanation for what may have occurred in Nigeria recently where severe HAILSTONES struck a local government in Imo State in the South-eastern part of Nigeria on the 19th March 2017 and repeated the same situation in Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State Nigeria on the 25th March 2017.
RECALLING THE ENVIRONMENTAL DATA FOR THE 19TH OF MARCH TO EXPLAIN THE HAILSTONE PHENOMENON
The weather report for the 19th of March 2017 was retrieved from the CustomWeather website an international organization is based in San Francisco, they are provider of syndicated weather content that combines the world technology and weather data to achieve and generate sophisticated weather forecast, maps, and tracking/alert notification covering over 70,000 locations worldwide.
IN THE MORNING of the 19th March 2016 passing cloud cover were observed by 6.00am but by 7.00am they became scattered clouds and by 8am through to 11am was partly Sunny, with average temperature 77 °F- 91 °F, with no wind flow and humidity was 94% and pressure was 29.83 “Hg it carried like this till Afternoon.
BY NOON the temperature had reached 88 °F and partly sunny weather still persist but the wind speed had increased to 7mph with average temperature 88 °F- 91°F by the time it was 2.00pm, humidity was 75% and pressure had now increased from the initially pressure of 29.83 to 29.77 “Hg it carried like this till 4.00pm .
BY EVENING 4.00pm the temperature had dropped 84 °F there was both partly sunny weather and thunderstorm still persist but the wind speed had dropped to 6mph with average temperature 88 °F- 91°F. By the time it was 2.00pm, humidity was 89% and pressure had stabilized at 29.77 mmHg. It continued like this till 10.00pm.
It is believed that after the thunderstorm, an upward current or draft of air inside the cloud called carried water droplets well above the freezing level.
The hailstones under the influence of the south west wind that was blowing at between 5-7mph hailstones dance around in the cloud as they add more thickness of ice, eventually they become heavy that they can no longer be supported by the updraught and they fall down to the ground.
Some hailstones can present roundish or irregularly shaped as was photographed in the Ekiti story few days ago. Some can be as big as 6 inches in diameter or less as was the case in both Imo State and Ekiti State.
In other clime they are dangerous and can damage property, crops and can lead to death. As was earlier noted the size of the hail depends on how strong and extensive the upward current or draft of air is and how much water is held in the cloud, in this alleged cases the evidence shows it was not SNOW but HAILSTONES which I believe shows a dangerous trend if the government doesn’t do sometime about it.
These HAILSTONES can occur in warmer weather like summer and spring condition but they usually follow or can occur during heavy thunderstorms.
So it is likely that the warm air moves around area that have high temperature especially, precipitations increases and water rise as wet air, these scenery often leads to formation of massive clouds and can cause thunderstorms and if the conditions are right it can also support formation of hail stone.
There are three requirement that must be met in order for SNOW to form:
(A) The air must contain sufficient moisture.
(B) The air must be forced upward.
(C) The air must cool to 0ºC (32ºF) or below as it rises.
In fact, it could snow when the ground temperature is, say, 35ºF, as long as the air above it is colder. FREEZING RAIN starts off as snow at high altitude and then encounters slightly warmer air on the way down that causes the snow to melt before it lands.
However, it then plunges into sub-freezing temperatures again and becomes supercooled. The rain will freeze as soon as it hits a surface, which explains why freezing rain leads to extremely hazardous driving conditions.
There’s no particular temperature that the ground-level air has to be at in order for SNOW to form, but the upper-level air must definitely be at or below freezing.
THIS IS HAIL STONE NOT SNOW, EXTREME OF WEATHER ARE SIGNS THAT THE CLIMATE CHANGE NARRATIVE IS TRUE.
So what happened in Imo, Ekiti state and Ndu in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, Ndungamantung Division on 26th April 2017 are signs of climate change, it is not a course for celebrations but for our metrological society to develop advance alert system to prevent disaster that may soon add to the already numerous difficulty we are facing, that usually follows such sudden manifestations.
Farm crops will die once this becomes a regular norm, health implication can’t be quantify especially now that the health sector is on a nose dive and animal or species that do not love cold will die destroying and the ecosystem becomes destabilized.
Government must as a necessity overhaul the agency and ministry of health with technological advanced equipment they are not costly compared to the salaries a senator receives.
Training and re-training of ministry of environment official is important. We now have local capacity trained aboard that can be employed, you can reach out to me or Climate Reality Project Organization owned by the former Vice-President Mr. Al Gore.
What lies ahead is going to define how we will survive as Nigerians. Extremes of weather like these will increase in frequency and intensity, building resilience, better understand, accurate knowledge to our people will save life before people start to cash into it the wrong way before our eyes lies the impact of climate change.
This information was culled from one of my research paper works.
Gbujie Daniel Chidubem Founder/Chief Executive Officer twitter handle: @team54project Whatapp only: +2348033041426
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