By Abiose Adelaja
March 23, 2010 01:34AM
The cloudy weather as witnessed in Lagos in the past few days. Photo: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

A Meteorologist has said the hazy weather currently observed around Lagos and some South-western states in the last few days is due to an unusual dust storm from the Sahara desert.

This haziness observed since Saturday, has led to the cancellation of several flights and could also lead to a rise in upper respiratory disease such as catarrh, cold and flu. The meteorologists advised people not to panic as it was normal for such to occur.

The hazy weather stemmed from a mixture of the dust haze blowing from the Sahara Desert through the north eastern part of Nigeria to Lagos and other south western states, explained Modupe Ogunwale, director of Research and Training at the Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

Climate change is here
Coincidentally, the rain which occurred on Friday (March 19) trapped the dust particles, thus causing the humidity, she said.

'This is unusual because this kind of dust storms usually occur around November/December; for it to occur in March means it is part of the climate change we are talking about.' She however said the situation may remain for a couple of more days as another dust storm was recorded in the Sahara on Sunday.

John Babatunde, a medical doctor advised residents to wear clothes that are warm as respiratory diseases are bound to be common at this time. He, especially advised parents to ensure that their wards are well dressed and covered up to prevent flu attacks.

Already Lagosians have been worried about the changing weather and especially about a phenomenon called acid rain. To this effect a text message has been circulating round town that there may be an acid rain between 20-28 March and that people should beware as the rain may cause skin cancer.

Mrs. Ogunwale, however, dispels this fear. 'It is not acid rain. It is because of this dust haze that we are having this kind of rain. It is not pure rain because it traps a lot of dust particles and since people collect rain water for drinking and other uses, they are advised not to drink or use this kind of rain.' The United States Environmental Protection Agency, says acid rain occurs when gases such as sulphuric acid and nitric acid react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds.