Muscat: Suwaiq, a small hamlet on the Batinah coast 125km north of Muscat, was hit with huge hailstones as rain beat down on most parts of Oman for the whole of Saturday night, bringing the mercury level down considerably.
The hailstones caused extensive damage to property and vehicles according to witnesses speaking to Gulf News by phone.
"It was a sleepless night as hailstones rained down at least three times on Saturday night," Omani businessman Maheshbhai Ashar told Gulf News yesterday, adding the first shower of hailstones came around 10pm.
"Windscreens and the lights of most vehicles in the town are broken while several cars have big dents due to hailstones," he added.
Another Suwaiq resident, Mohammad Zehmani, a young Omani who had recently got married, had his hands full.
"I built a new house to live in after my marriage but the hailstones have badly damaged the roof," he said.
Zehmani had not insured his house therefore he will have to bear the cost of the damage.
The insurance industry otherwise is bracing itself for huge claims due to the hailstorm as well as heavy rain that lashed most parts of the country in the north and western regions.
Some cars parked in low-lying areas in Muscat on Saturday night were thrown around by heavy currents from wadis, especially in Qurum and Darseit.
"We are expecting unusually high claims due to rains and hailstorms in Suwaiq," Dr J. Ratnakumar, General Manager of the New India Insurance company told Gulf News yesterday.
Suwaiq witnessed a milder hailstorm on December 31 last year when Oman was inundated with heavy rain.
"We settled over 35 claims worth 250,000 Omani riyals (Dh2,385,220) during the December rains," revealed Deepak Kamath, Area Manager, Oman, for AXA Insurance.
He anticipates fewer claims this time around as last time people had not heeded police advice and had ventured into flowing wadis.
He added owing to the rain being late at night and in the early hours people were not caught unawares by the bad weather.
In Muscat, traffic jams were the order of the day as vehicles drove ultra slowly on flooded streets. In some places trees and signboards were uprooted.
Yahya Al Kindi, a forecaster with the Meteorological Department, meanwhile, said the Met office had no evidence of hailstones.
"We don't have an observatory in Suwaiq but we have received reports from citizens in the area that hailstones rained in the town," he said.
He added that rain in Oman was not unusual at this time of the year.
"It is caused by strong westerly disturbances moving across the country," he said.
For the record, Muscat received 44.6mm rain while Jebel Al Shams received the maximum rainfall of 134mm.