John Camiola moved from the US to live in Nigeria more than a decade ago with his family as a missionary.
But he hasn’t missed the American winter, no thanks to the weather patterns in Jos, Plateau State, where he lives.
According to him, Jos and New York City have similar cold weather patterns.
“This cold season is very similar to our winter,” he told Channels Television. “It’s really nice to have this cold weather. I just came back from Abuja and it was much warmer there.
“Last night, it was freezing. We had several blankets on, jackets, we were amazed at how cold it was. And we were amazed at how many people were complaining about the cold weather in Jos; we thought they were exaggerating but it is really cold here.”
Since the turn of the New Year, temperatures in Jos have dropped, sometimes to seven-degree celsius, according to our reporter’s observations.
The biting cold is accompanied by harmattan dust and has forced residents to don warm and additional clothing such as jackets and cardigans.
“This place is really cold,” James Halidu, who came in from Borno, said. “I am enjoying it. At night it was terrible. I can’t bathe with cold water. It’s too cold.”
“We are used to it,” a resident, Saeed Zakari, said. “It is normal here in Jos. I won’t advise anybody to come to Jos now. You can come in the next two months. But if you have to, come with big sweaters and socks. The cold is too much.”
The weather also comes with a number of health challenges, including respiratory infections.
According to a Consultant Paediatrician at the University of Jos, Christopher Yilgwan, the very young and very old are the most vulnerable.
“Apart from the fact that their body temperature could be very low, they could also be exposed to viruses that cause regulatory-tract infections,” he said.
“And, again, when you combine the harmattan and the dust, and the way it carries all these viruses and organisms around, the chances of having those infections are higher.
“Then with the cold itself, people tend to congregate together; they tend to stay in smaller spaces to keep warm; people lock their windows. And when you lock windows, you tend to reduce ventilation.
“With poor ventilation and overcrowding, it is easier to spread viruses.”
Although overcrowding doesn’t worry Camiola and his family, he feels the Jos cold is harder to deal with because people organise their lives around letting in air.
“In the US, we have ventilation and heating systems, so we have the ability to stay warm,” he said. “Unfortunately in Nigeria, mostly our houses are made out of cement, so that’s really cold. Our windows don’t seal really well, so the wind will bring in the cold. That’s a really big challenge. So when someone says ‘I can handle this cold weather in Jos’, you have to take those things into consideration.”