Harmattan- a Season of Dry and Dusty Wind

                                                  By Vic Odarve

Unlike most tropical countries which feature distinct wet and dry climates, some African countries have this unique season called Harmattan- a season of dry and dusty wind. These extremely dust-laden winds block out the sun for days and severely limit visibility like a heavy fog or cloudy mists and bring wide temperature fluctuations in the surroundings between days and nights.

Dry air and dust like fogs

Dry air and dusty atmosphere surround the tennis court

The Harmattan is a seasonal wind, which is an extremely dry and dusty that blows at intermittent strengths from the Sahara toward the westerly coast of Africa every year from November through March. This wind builds up during the dry season when a high pressure system of the subtropical ridge stays over the central Sahara Desert and a low pressure system of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) stays over the Gulf of Guinea. The wind picks up fine dust

Dusty wind from Sahara blows toward to the western coast of Africa

Dusty wind from Sahara blows toward to the western coast of Africa

and sand particles (0.5 – 10 micrometers) as it passes over the Sahara, and brings it all the way to Nigeria and its neighboring countries on the western coast of Africa. Every morning seems misty with fogs covering the buildings and mountain ranges. The fogs are formed from minute suspended dust particles which find its way into homes, regardless of keeping them close. Dusts deposit on the floors, rooms, and almost all parts inside the house can be observed every day.

The foggy atmosphere sometimes causes the visibility less than 500 m and vehicles have to put their lights on during the daytime. When visibility becomes a problem, some flights are

Dorms, university rooms and offices are not spared from dust deposits.

Dorms, university rooms and offices are not spared from dust deposits.

cancelled or diverted to other routes which cause airlines millions of dollars.

Air humidity oftentimes drops to as low as 15 percent, which in effect, cause the season’s temperature widely fluctuates; it is usually cool at night with temperatures can be as low as 9 °C (48 °F) and can soar to 30C (86F) during the afternoon. There are reports that due to low humidity some people suffered nose bleeding. Due to the wind laden with dust, some varieties of crops severely

Dusts settle down on the roofs, and all the other parts of the buildings.

Dust settle down on the roofs, and all the other parts of the buildings.

damaged; its interaction with monsoon wind reportedly caused tornadoes; and interrupt commerce and daily life activities for days.

As we love to see the beautiful mists and fogs crowning mountain ranges meeting all fairies and magical creatures way back to Asian and western countries, this Harmattan-a dust laden misty fog affects peoples’ lives. Some people view these things differently and alter their lives – sometimes in very subtle ways- sometimes more obviously. This season brings bad tempers and poor decisions making, and worse, get their lives irritable.

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