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Panic over acid rain in Lagos

The unusual coloured rainfall (stains on the car)as witnessed in Lagos.

By Ebele Orakpo

LAGOS—THERE was palpable panic in some areas of Lagos including Ogba/Ikeja axis,  yesterday afternoon as the heavens opened its bowels, releasing what people feared was the rumoured acid rain.

The heavy rain left cream-coloured dusty deposits on vehicles.

Vanguard’s Entertainment editor, Mr. Ogbonnaya Amadi, who witnessed the downpour, said the rainwater smelled like a disinfectant, and whitish in colour.  Amadi had the cream-coloured deposits on his car to prove his point.

Assistant General Manager, Central Forecast Office of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, Mr. Cyprian Okoloye, in a telephone conversation with Vanguard, said the agency had not received the report but stressed that there was absolutely no need to fear as the milk colour of the rainwater could be attributed to the heavy dust the nation has been witnessing for some days now.

Earlier, the Director, Research and Training, of NIMET, Mrs. Modupe Ogunwale had told Vanguard in an interview in Lagos, that for now, people should not expect rainwater to be clean as a result of the heavy dust in the atmosphere, noting the water would only be good for agricultural purposes and not for domestic use.

Reports from Port Harcourt

Similar reports from Port Harcourt, Wednesday, said people took to their heels as soon as the rain started. According to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, the rain which lasted for about 20 minutes left salty particles on vehicles with which it came in contact.

It would be recalled that text messages sent to people last week had warned of the impending acid rain to be expected between March 20 and 28.
Reacting to the text message, Tuesday, NIMET’s Acting Director, Weather Forecasting Services, Mr. Ifeanyi Nnodu, while speaking at the World Meteorological Day celebration in Lagos, said the acid rain which would be expected in Lagos and Port Harcourt because of the industrial nature of the two cities, would not be acidic enough to cause cancer or any other debilitating health problem.

NASA official dispels acid rain rumour

Meantime, a meteorologist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, an independent agency of the United States government responsible for aviation and spaceflight, earlier in the week described reports that acid rains are due to fall from March 20 to 28 as inaccurate and false.

A Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, expert with NASA, Bill Patzert in his response to an inquiry on Monday said a black or dark circle around the moon is a common occurrence in space and has no relationship whatsoever with acid rain.

He noted: “Dark circles around the moon are more common than you realize. Basically it’s an optical illusion when you get very clear skies and fine ice particles in the upper atmosphere.

“What you get is the moon, a dark circle round it, then a sky lit up with diffracted moonlight. It looks pretty, that is all. Nothing mystical or para-normal at all.”

Many persons at home and abroad have been receiving messages on their phones, emails and blogs warning of the possibility of acid rain allegedly emanating from NASA, which could not be verified.

One message said: “There is a possibility of acid rain. The dark circle appeared around the moon on March 17 and this was an indication of an acid rain. Apparently, this happens once in 750 years. It rains like normal rain, but it may cause skin cancer if you expose yourself to it. This is coming from NASA, warn your family and friends.”

Bill said the dark circles, which he referred to as a ‘halo’ were not unusual but might cause rain or bad weather. He, however, completely ruled out the possibility of acid rain.

He said: “I have seen one before that encircled the moon with a very clear gap (thus, the black circle). Each occurrence will not look exactly like the last one, each will be a bit different….not that unusual.

“Also, weather folklore says that a ring around the moon signifies bad weather is coming, and in many cases this may be true. The ice crystals that cover the halo signify high altitude, thin cirrus clouds that normally precede a front by one or two days. There is no connection to acid rain … but a possible rain connection.”


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.