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Climate Featured Headline News Nigeria Special Report

Windstorms: Cause and Effects

The powerful winds that have followed the beginning of the rains are causing widespread devastation across the country, and as a result, residents in various regions are taking stock of their personal and financial losses as a result.

What Causes Windstorms and How Much Damage Do They Do?

A windstorm is characterised by sustained winds that are powerful enough to cause at least some damage to trees and buildings and may or may not be accompanied by precipitation. The average wind speeds during a windstorm are higher than 55 kilometres (34 miles) per hour.

Strong winds and heavy rains caused by windstorms can lead to the collapse of structures and the scattering of debris, both of which can result in personal harm and fatalities. Additionally, during the impact phase, these severe rains have been linked to drowning.

Affected regions in 2022

There have been reports of damaged rooftops, houses, and vehicles in different places in Nigeria as a result of windstorms that accompanied the first rains. 

A windstorm ripped down a billboard posted at the renowned Mbaise park along the Mbaise/Egbu route in Owerri, the Imo State capital in Southeast Nigeria, and descended on two buses and a Sienna vehicle belonging to two transport companies. Additional properties with a value in the millions were lost.

In Lagos, on the Kudirat Abiola Way, a giant billboard also fell on the road, causing damage to a tricycle and two cars.

During a recent windstorm that hit the north-central state of Niger, the spokesman for the Coalition of Shiroro Associations (COSA), Mr Salis Sabo, said that at least 11 people were injured and that about 38 homes were destroyed. 

In Jigawa State’s Jahun Local Government Area, 220 houses and properties worth millions were destroyed.

In five LGAs of Kano State, flooding and a windstorm have reportedly caused the deaths of three people and the destruction of over 2,250 homes in Rano, Kibiya, Doguwa, Danbatta, and Kiru LGAs.

There have been four deaths in Yobe State after a windstorm devastated the Hashimeri area of Damaturu. In addition, 35 houses were destroyed in the incident, which affected the Nayinawa and Abacha wards in the state capital.

463 homes were flattened in Obudu, Yala, and Ogojain LGAs in Cross River, and more than 70 homes were destroyed in Tambuwal, Sokoto State.

In Mutum-Biyu area of Gassol LGA, in Taraba, 300 homes were damaged and at least seven people died.

Nigerian Meteorological Agency, or NiMet

As the rainy season continues, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, has provided some recommendations that may be of assistance in reducing the risk of flash flooding.

The NiMet urged city planners to control the construction of buildings in flood plains and has called for the evacuation of drainages.

“We advise various line ministries to engage in community sensitization and evacuation of blocked drainages to allow for free water flow during the rainy season, which is always associated with high impact, heavy rain, and strong windstorms.

The agency said the major focus should be on compliance. “People need to comply, plant more trees, and create more spaces that are greener in order to retain water and cut down on excessive overland flow. This will lessen the damage that is caused by flash floods.

We advise, in particular, the building industry to align structures based on the predominant weather conditions [so that they can] withstand such the season is associated with high-intensity rainfall and powerful windstorms.

NIMET produces the annual Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP), also known as the Seasonal Climate Outlook, which predicts and proffers solutions to weather change.

Monitoring, analysing, and reporting weather and climate information in a timely and accurate manner for socioeconomic development and protecting both lives and property.

Writing by Omotola Oguneye